Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy amidst hunt for new investment

Satellite launch company Virgin Orbit has filed for bankruptcy in the US whilst looking for a buyer after halting operations last month. 

Owned by British businessman Richard Branson, the company was hoping to complete the UK’s first vertical satellite launch earlier this year but an anomaly during launch scuppered the plans.

CEO Dan Hart explained that the move was seen as the best way to help in the process of securing a sale and was hopeful that the ‘cutting-edge technology’ created by the company would be a significant draw. 

He said: ‘While we have taken great efforts to address our financial position and secure additional financing, we ultimately must do what is best for the business.’ 

‘I’m incredibly grateful and proud of every one of our teammates, both for the pioneering spirit of innovation they’ve embodied and for their patience and professionalism as we’ve managed through this difficult time.’ He added. 

‘Today my thoughts and concerns are with the many talented teammates and friends now finding their way forward who have been committed to the mission and promise of all that Virgin Orbit represents.’ 

The US based company had also recently announced an 85% cut of its staff following a difficulty in finding new funding after the unsuccessful UK launch. 

A Chapter 11 filing for bankruptcy allows the company to continue operating whilst providing protection around any creditors who may be owed money, Virgin Orbit is also not the first company in the space industry to go through this process.

An offshoot of Branson’s space tourism business Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit is known for its unique use of a modified jumbo jet to launch satellites mid-flight meaning it can be done on short notice and without the need of a specialised launch platform. 

Despite the initial failure to complete a launch at Spaceport Cornwall in January, the company had previously said it would look to try again later this year, though those plans have now been thrown into doubt.

Photos: Virgin Orbit


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