Virgin Orbit declares bankruptcy

Owned by British billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Orbit has filed for bankruptcy. This is stated in a message published on its website. 

Virgin Orbit was founded in 2017 by separating the Virgin Galactic division, which was engaged in the development of the LauncherOne rocket, into a separate company. The peculiarity of the carrier is that it is launched according to the air launch scheme from aboard a special aircraft.

The LauncherOne launch vehicle separates from the Boeing 747. Source: Virgin Orbit

LauncherOne managed to reach space on the second attempt in January 2021. Subsequently, the company carried out three more successful rocket launches, putting various cargoes into orbit on orders from NASA, the US Space Forces and other organizations and private firms. Virgin Orbit also tried to expand the geography of its activities. In particular, it received a license to conduct launches from the territory of the United Kingdom. In addition, the company founded a subsidiary of Virgin Orbit Brasil. It was supposed to organize launches from the territory of the Brazilian Alcantara cosmodrome.

LauncherOne Bankruptcy

On January 9, 2023, Virgin Orbit carried out its first British launch. It ended in failure. The rocket failed to reach orbit due to premature shutdown of the second stage engine. Later it turned out that the cause of the failure was the displacement of the fuel filter.

Assembly of LauncherOne. Source: Virgin Orbit

This failure was a big shock for the company. At that time, Virgin Orbit was already experiencing financial problems. The company’s management hoped to rectify the situation due to the expected 200 million investments. However, at the last moment, a potential investor refused the deal, which put Virgin Orbit on the verge of collapse. In March, the company initially put on indefinite leave, and then dismissed 675 employees (85% of the total number of its working staff). However, despite desperate attempts to find another investor, such drastic measures only delayed the inevitable. On April 4, the company officially declared bankruptcy.

It is reported that Virgin Orbit received a loan in the amount of USD 31.6 million to finance the bankruptcy process. As soon as the court approves the application, this money will provide the company with the necessary liquidity to continue working and will allow it to engage in the processes of selling the business.

According to

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