Virgin Orbit Files For Bankruptcy In US

Sir Richard Branson’s satellite-launching company Virgin Orbit has filed for bankruptcy in the US, 15 months after it went public with a valuation of $3.7 billion (£3bn).

The Virgin Galactic spin-off listed on the Nasdaq in December 2021 through a merger with a blank-cheque company.

The firm was founded in 2017 to seek a share of the rapidly growing market for launching satellites into space, launching rockets from beneath modified Boeing 747 jets.

But it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday morning in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware after failing to secure long-term funding.

Image credit: Virgin Orbit

Failed launch

The company had struggled to recover from a failed launch from Cornwall in January, which had been intended to be the first launch of a satellite from UK soil.

The launch was aborted after a rocket fuel filter became dislodged, causing one of the engines to overheat.

The failure caused Virgin Orbit’s share price to collapse.

Last month the firm paused operations to conserve cash and last week it said it would lay off 85 percent of it workforce.

Image credit: Virgin Orbit


Branson provided $11m to cover staff severance payments and on Tuesday Virgin Orbit said a sister company, Virgin Investments, would provide a further $31.6m to help it through the process of finding a buyer.

Virgin Orbit chief executive Dan Hart said the company had “taken great efforts” to secure funding but would now be focusing on finding a buyer “to provide clarity on the future of the company to its customers, vendors, and employees”.

He said he believed the firm’s “cutting-edge launch technology” would give it “wide appeal” for a new owner.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Recent Posts

Microsoft Recall Triggers Enquiry From UK Data Regulator

Privacy concerns. ICO seeks feedback after Microsoft introduces AI Recall feature that screenshots users' laptops…

3 hours ago

Upcoming Honor Smartphones To Feature Google AI Tech

Honor will include Google AI features in upcoming devices, despite geopolitical tensions between Washington and…

4 hours ago

Amazon To Refresh Alexa With AI, Charge Monthly Subscription – Report

Alexa voice assistant to be upgraded with AI capabilities, and users charged a monthly fee…

5 hours ago

Electric Vehicles Twice As Likely To Hit Pedestrians – Study

Study analysed UK road collisions, finds pedestrians twice as likely to be hit by an…

6 hours ago

EU Countries Endorse AI Act, Due Next Month

European countries have officially endorsed the flagship EU AI Act, which is due to come…

9 hours ago

SpaceX Demos First Video Call Of T-Mobile’s Direct To Cell Service

Video call made from one smartphone connected to Starlink satellite, to another phone connected to…

10 hours ago