Virgin Galactic Is The First Commercial Space Operation To Offer An Initial Public Offering (I.P.O.) Of Stock On The New York Stock Exchange (N.Y.S.E.).
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson‘s Virgin Galactic company is one of the handful of commercial space operations companies to spawn since the United States (U.S.) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A.) ceased internal human space flight on July 8, 2011. Atlantis was the last U.S. N.A.S.A. Space Shuttle to terrestrially launched from Kennedy Space Center‘s Launchpad 39A on July 8, 2011 at 11:29 am Eastern Daylight Time (E.D.T.) for the thirteen (13) day mission, according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2012). The U.S. N.A.S.A. press kit for the final Shuttle Mission STS-135 can be viewed and read by clicking here.
Initially reported by Cable News Network (C.N.N.) on July 9, 2019, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic announced it would become a publicly held and traded company, according to Wattles and Riley (2019). The new stakeholders, or stockholders, will hold a non-controlling 49% ownership of Virgin Galactic following its merger with Social Captial Hedosophia Holdings (New York Stock Exchange [N.Y.S.E.] Stock Identification Label: IOPA) with a combined total estimated value, or valuation, of $1.5 Billion United States Dollars (U.S.D.) (Wattles & Riley, 2019). In a joint statement, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings and Virgin Galactic stated Virgin Galactic will become the “first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company,” according to Wattles and Riley (2019). The merger was approved by Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings shareholders on Wednesday October 23, 2019, Green Lighting the Initial Public Offering (I.P.O.) of stock, according to Cavaliere (2019).
It is official, first reported today (10-28-2019) by The Wall Street Journal‘s Sarah E. Needleman, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. made its inaugural public trade on the New York Stock Exchange (N.Y.S.E.) today under the N.Y.S.E. ticker symbol “SPCE” making it the first time public stocks have traded for “a human spaceflight venture,” according to Needleman (2019). Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. SPCE stock opened at $9.94 U.S.D. per share and closed the day at $11.75 U.S.D. per share, according to the New York Stock Exchange (2019). More than $450,000,000 ($450 Million) U.S.D. had been raised by Virgin Galactic by last Friday (10-25-2019) giving Virgin Galactic a Market Capitalization (Market Cap), or total aggregated value, of $2,300,000,000 ($2.3 Billion) U.S.D. (Needleman, 2019). Inclusive in the transaction, The Boeing Company agreed to purchase $20,000,000 ($20 Million) U.S.D. in Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (SPCE) stock, according to Needleman (2019). Social Capital Hedosophia Holding’s Mr. Palihapitiya also bought $100,000,000 ($100 Million) U.S.D. in Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (SPCE) stock (Needleman, 2019). Virgin Galactic shareholders own nearly fifty-nine percent (59%) “of the newly publicly traded firm,” according to Needleman (2019).
Virgin Galactic‘s commercial human spaceflight is based on the reusable “SpaceShip Two space flight system,” according to Virgin Galactic-a (n.d.). The SpaceShip Two platform is comprised of a custom built launch aircraft called “WhiteKnightTwo” and ” SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first passenger carrying spaceship to be built by a private company and operated in commercial service” (Virgin Galactic-a, n.d.). The SpaceShipTwo can carry up to eight (8) occupants including: two (2) pilot-astronauts and eight (8) passengers, according to Virgin Galactic-a (n.d.).
Potential investors and stockholders can be reassured that Virgin Galactic has received six-hundred (600) reservations for tickets aboard the SpaceShipTwo at a cost of $133,334 U.S.D. for each ticket summing to approximately $80,000,000 ($80 Million) U.S.D. in initial forecast launch revenue, according to Needleman (2019). Moreover, another three-thousand and seven-hundred (3,700) “have registered for the opportunity to purchase seats” with Virgin Galactic (Needleman, 2019).
Sir Richard Branson “started building his global empire in the early 1970s with Virgin Records, which he sold in 1992. His portfolio has expanded to include everything from airlines to wine,” according to Needleman (2019). Sir Richard Branson has a “Real Time Net Worth” of $3,900,000,000 ($3.9 Billion) U.S.D., Ranked #475 in Forbes Magazine 2019 Billionaires List at the time of writing this article, according to Forbs (2019).
In a personal interview, Sir Richard Branson appeared and seemed very pleased with his latest accomplishment stating, “having closed a number of public companies, this is the most satisfying,” according to Needleman (2019). Sir Richard Branson‘s last concluding argument was “there‘s been a lot of skeptics over the last fifteen (15) years” (Needleman, 2019).
Cavaliere, V. (2019, October 24). In Just A Few Days, Investors Could Take A Stake In A Space Tourism Company For The First Time. http://www.Cnn.com Accessed on October 26, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/24/business/virgin-nyse-space-tourism/index.html
Forbes. (2019). #478 Richard Branson. Forbes Magazine. Accessed on October 28, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/profile/richard-branson/#5ef5b7156ff5
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (2012, February 27). STS–135 Launch And Landing. http://www.Nasa.gov Accessed on October 28, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts135/launch/index.html
Needleman, S. E. (2019, October 28). Virgin Galactic Makes NYSE Debut. The Wall Steet Journal. Accessed on October 28, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/news/author/sarah-e.-needleman
New York Stock Exchange. (2019, October 28). VIRGIN GALACTIC HOLDINGS INC SPCE. The New York Stock Exchange. Accessed on October 28, 2019. Retreived from: https://www.nyse.com/quote/XNYS:SPCE
Wattles, J. & Riley, C. (2019, July 9). Richard Branson Is Taking Vigin Galactic Public. http://www.Cnn.com Accessed on October 26, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/09/tech/virgin-galactic-ipo/index.html