Virgin Orbit: Branson’s space mission ends after rocket failure

Virgin Orbit: Branson’s space mission ends after rocket failure

  • By Peter Hoskin
  • business journalist

source of images, Department of Defense

Sir Richard Branson’s rocket company Virgin Orbit has shut down, just months after a major mission failed.

The company’s converted jet and leases on the properties have been sold for $36m (£29m), just a fraction of the $3.7bn the company was valued at in 2021.

In March, Virgin Orbit announced it would lay off most of its workforce after failing to secure new investment.

The California-based company filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States early last month.

It came just weeks after the company suspended operations in an apparent attempt to shore up its finances.

Earlier this year, a Virgin Orbit rocket failed to complete the first-ever satellite launch from UK soil.

Virgin Orbit’s rocket factory and headquarters equipment was bought by rival startup Rocket Lab for $16.1 million.

His converted Boeing 747 plane, called Cosmic Girl, was sold for $17 million to aerospace company Stratolaunch.

Another space company, Launcher Inc, bought Virgin Orbit’s launch site and lease in the Mojave Desert for $2.7 million.

Virgin Orbit, which was founded in 2017, has never made a profit as a public company.

He has developed rockets to carry small satellites and is part of Sir Richard’s business empire, which includes airline Virgin Atlantic and space tourism company Virgin Galactic.

The company’s LauncherOne rocket reached space but did not reach its target orbit.

The mission was touted as a milestone for British space exploration. It was hoped that this would mark a major step towards realizing the ambition of transforming the country into a global player – from manufacturing satellites to building rockets and creating new spaceports.

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Watch: Virgin Orbit rocket heads into space

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