Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. shares continued their recent volatility after SpaceX’s Dragon spaceship had a successful launch and subsequently docked with the International Space Station over the weekend.
The historic launch marked the first time astronauts went in to orbit on a commercially developed spacecraft, delivering a win for some investors hopeful that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX can drive the future of private space transportation.
Shares of Branson’s Virgin Galactic rallied as much as 9.7 percent on Monday, bring its 2020 rally to 60 percent so far. While the broader market was mixed after the weekend, shares of Musk’s Tesla were among early outperformers, rising as much as 4 percent to a more than one-month high.
The successful launch was “arguably the most important milestone in the US space program in nearly 40 years,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a research note to clients. He highlighted that there is a “significant sense of urgency to execute bolder and more audacious missions in space” after the weekend’s events.
Short interest in Virgin Galactic remains elevated with roughly a quarter of shares available for trading currently sold short, data compiled by S3 Partners shows. That’s down from a peak of 47 percent last month before Branson’s Virgin Group Holdings Ltd. sold 25 million shares.
To be sure, Virgin Galactic has yet to generate meaningful sales or turn a profit though in February it did resume taking deposits for future space flights. Closely-held SpaceX as well as Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, are in the race with Virgin Galactic to help make space tourism a reality.