Virgin Galactic continues to bleed money as it ramps up investment in spaceship manufacturing operations in preparation for commercial launch next year of its space tourism operations at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.
The company reported a net loss of $93 million in the first quarter of 2022 in it’s latest earnings statement on Thursday. That’s down from a $130 million loss in the same quarter last year, but it comes on top of a cumulative $1.2 billion in total losses over the past three years.
The company did generate $310,000 in revenue in the January-March period, mostly from down payments from new customers seeking tickets to space on future spaceflights, which cost $450,000 per seat.
But the company won’t begin earning any significant revenue until 2023, when it initiates commercial flights to space for tourists, and for entities that pay to conduct experiments in suborbit. Even then, it could take years for the company to become cash positive, much less profitable, as it works through a backlog of some 800 customers who have already reserved spots on the the company’s six-passenger rockets.
And, in the meantime, it’s pumping hundreds of millions into developing the manufacturing infrastructure for long-term sustainability and growth, which accounts for its huge quarterly losses.
The company reported $52 million, for example, in research and development expenses in first-quarter 2022, up from $35 million in the same quarter last year.
Still, the company has plenty of money to burn going forward to pay for continued investments as it prepares for commercial launch, said Chief Financial Officer Doug Ahrens.
“Our balance sheet remains strong, with over $1.2 billion in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities,” Ahrens told participants in an earnings conference call Thursday afternoon.