Space stocks are experiencing a decline on Friday, with Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. leading the way with a decrease of 5.4%. This marks the second consecutive day of losses for the space tourism company and its largest single-day percentage decline since Tuesday’s 7.6% drop. Virgin Galactic (SPCE) has faced declines in five out of the last six days.
Intuitive Machines Inc. (LUNR), a company preparing for the launch of its first commercial lunar lander, is also facing a decline of 2%. This extends its losing streak to two days.
Virgin Galactic’s Recent Struggles
Virgin Galactic has been grappling with a series of setbacks recently. However, the company’s stock saw a rise after receiving an upgrade from Truist.
Intuitive Machines’ Lunar Mission
Intuitive Machines has ambitious plans to send its Nova-C lunar lander to the moon. The launch is scheduled to take place aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, potentially as early as next month. The mission, known as IM-1, will have a multi-day launch window starting no earlier than mid-February due to the lunar blackout period. Nova-C aims to land near the moon’s South Pole, where favorable lighting conditions are only available for a few days each month.
In the broader market, the S&P 500 index (SPX) is experiencing a 0.7% increase on Friday. Meanwhile, Momentus Inc. (MNTS), a company specializing in satellite transportation and servicing, faces a 2.1% decline. Earth-imaging company Planet Labs PBC (PL) is also down by 1.9%. Additionally, the Procure Space ETF (UFO) has seen a decline of 2.5%.
Despite the overall positive market performance, space stocks are facing significant challenges. Virgin Galactic and Intuitive Machines are both experiencing losses, highlighting the volatile nature of the industry. However, with continued advancements and missions like Intuitive Machines’ lunar lander, the future of space exploration remains promising. Keep an eye on these stocks as their performance may have a significant impact on the market.
Private Space Company Ends Troubled Mission
On Thursday, private space company Astrobotic Technology faced a setback as its mission to place a lander on the moon came to an end. The company’s Peregine spacecraft completed its controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, with reports suggesting it burned up over the South Pacific. The lunar landing mission was doomed by a propellant leak, resulting in failure. However, Astrobotic managed to activate all of Peregrine’s active payloads and collect valuable data from them.
Commercial Moon Landers and NASA’s Artemis Program
Commercial moon landers play a crucial role as scouting missions ahead of the anticipated return of American astronauts to the lunar surface as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Recently, NASA announced that it is setting its sights on September 2025 for the first crewed Artemis mission around the moon, followed by a crewed Artemis mission to land astronauts near the lunar South Pole in September 2026.
International Efforts Towards Moon Exploration
The moon also remains a target for various countries. Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) successfully reached the lunar surface on Friday. However, scientists are currently assessing the probe’s status to determine whether the landing was truly successful.
In terms of market performance, several space-related companies have experienced declines in their stock prices over the past 52 weeks. Virgin Galactic shares have plummeted by 64.6%, while Intuitive Machines has seen a significant decrease of 75%. Momentus shares have fared even worse, dropping by 98.4% during this period. Planet Lab shares have also fallen, albeit by a lesser extent at 58.8%. In contrast, the S&P 500 index has risen by 21.2% in the last 52 weeks.