Virgin Orbit shuts down after failed rocket launch

Virgin Orbit ceased operations after an unsuccessful launch of a rocket into space

For a month and a half Since filing for bankruptcy, the California-based firm has sold assets, including converted aircraft and real estate leases, for $36 million. The proceeds are less than 1 percent of the $3.7 billion the company was valued at as recently as 2021.

In March 2023, the company said it would cut a significant portion of its staff after failing to raise new investment.

Virgin Orbit was founded in 2017 as an offshoot of Virgin Galactic — the space tourism company that successfully sent Branson on a suborbital flight in 2021.

Virgin Orbit's goal was to enter the growing market for small satellites using its own innovations, such as the horizontal launch method. The LauncherOne rocket was mounted under the wing of a converted Boeing 747 called Cosmic Girl, took off with it and launched from a height of 10 000 meters.

In January, Virgin Orbit's landmark mission to launch the first rocket into space from the UK failed due to the fact that the rocket could not gain the required height. After the failure, the company suspended operations and placed employees on furlough, eventually laying off about 85 percent of the workforce.

As a result, Boeing Cosmic Girl was sold for $17 million to aerospace company Stratolaunch, rival startup Rocket Lab bought Virgin Orbit's rocket factory, equipment and headquarters for $16.1 million. Launcher Inc. acquired the rights to lease Orbit and the Mojave Desert Spaceport for $2.7 million

“Throughout its history, Virgin Orbit has been at the forefront of innovation and has made a significant contribution to the field of commercial rocket launches,” says in the “farewell” company statement.

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