Space stocks rally despite Virgin Galactic’s decline

Space stocks rallied Friday — except for Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., which ended the session down 1%.

The space-tourism company, which initially led a broader decline in space stocks, extended its losing streak to two days. Virgin Galactic

is down five of the last six days.

However, shares of Intuitive Machines Inc.
which is preparing for the launch of its first commercial lunar lander, rallied to end the session up 1.6%. The stock fell 0.8% during Thursday’s session.

Related: Virgin Galactic’s stock rises after Truist upgrade

Intuitive Machines is planning to send its Nova-C lunar lander to the moon atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as early as next month. The IM-1 mission’s launch is targeted for a multiday launch window that opens no earlier than mid-February, given the monthly lunar blackout period, the company said in a recent update. Nova-C will land near the moon’s South Pole, where the correct lighting conditions are available for only a few days each month.

The S&P 500 index
ended Friday’s session up 1.2%. Shares of Momentus Inc.
which provides satellite transportation and servicing, rallied to end Friday’s session up 5.9%, snapping a four-day losing streak. The stock also registered its biggest single-day percentage gain since Dec. 26, 2023, when it rose 6.9%. Shares of Earth-imaging company Planet Labs PBC

ended the session up 1.9%, snapping a three-day nonwinning streak during which shares closed unchanged on Thursday. The Procure Space exchange-traded fund
was down 2.2% Friday.

On Thursday, private space company Astrobotic Technology ended its troubled mission to place a lander on the moon when its Peregrine spacecraft completed its controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft is believed to have burned up over the South Pacific. A propellant leak doomed the lunar-landing mission to failure, although Astrobotic was able to turn on all of Peregrine’s active payloads and collect data from them.

Related: This space stock is soaring as next commercial moon-landing mission looms

Commercial moon landings are important scouting missions ahead of the return of U.S. astronauts to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Earlier this month, NASA said it is now targeting September 2025 for its first crewed Artemis mission around the moon, and September 2026 for its Artemis mission to land astronauts near the lunar South Pole. 

Other countries also have their sights set on the moon. On Friday, Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, successfully made a soft landing on the lunar surface, the Associated Press reported.

Virgin Galactic shares are down 63% in the last 52 weeks, while Intuitive Machines is down 74%. Momentus shares are down 98.3% over that period, while Planet Labs shares have fallen 57.2%. The S&P 500 index is up 21.8% in the last 52 weeks.

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