Virgin Orbit is on the verge of bankruptcy

The future of Virgin Orbit hangs in the balance. In order to escape from bankruptcy, the company is actively looking for financial injections. The California-based company has been trying to achieve success in the field of satellite launches for the past year, but suffered a serious failure in January when an attempt to launch over the UK ended in failure. Recently, a potential buyer suddenly refused a USD 200 million deal. Now other companies are negotiating with the company. But if an investor is not found quickly, bankruptcy may occur as early as this week, CNBC reports.

Cosmic Girl airplane with a suspended rocket Launcher One. Source: Virgin Orbit

The difficulties first became known last week when the company laid off all 750 employees in search of a sponsor. The company refuses to comment on notifications about negotiations. Although people acquainted with the matter reported that Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart and senior management had been discussing potential investors over the weekend. 

Virgin Orbit was separated from Virgin Galactic in 2017. But its largest shareholder, Virgin founder Richard Branson, refused to provide more funds after he invested more than USD 1 billion in the company in November 2022. In its fight for survival, Virgin Orbit is also working with Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) and Ducera, two restructuring firms regarding a backup plan in case it fails to get new funding, Sky News reports. 

Four successes and one catastrophe

After a failed launch in January, the company hoped to try another launch in the coming weeks. But such an attempt seems extremely unlikely due to the current circumstances. The air launch uses a modified Boeing 747 aircraft with a LauncherOne rocket under the wing to launch small satellites into orbit for private companies and governments. The advantage of Virgin Orbit’s aerial launches over competitors such as SpaceX and RocketLab is that their rocket can take to the air from almost any place where there is a runway, without the need for expensive infrastructure, and does not depend on weather conditions that may delay a ground launch.

To date, Virgin Orbit has completed four successful missions. All of them launched from the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert. The first one took place in January 2021, and the last one in July 2022. But the rocket launched in January failed to reach orbit, resulting in the loss of nine satellites for a number of commercial customers. The probable cause of the crash was a fuel filter, Virgin Orbit reported last month.

Earlier we reported on how Virgin Galactic informed space tourists of the sad news.

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