Virgin Orbit to lay off 85% of staff and cease operations ‘for foreseeable future’ | UK News

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit has said it will cut 85% of its staff and will cease operations for the foreseeable future.

The satellite launch company, which is 75 percent owned by British billionaire Virgin Group, has been unable to secure new funding from investors.

Back in January, the company Fails to complete first-ever satellite launch From British land.

New funding will value Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit at more than $2 billion
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group owns 75% of Virgin Orbit.Figure: Virgin Orbit

Sir RichardVirgin Investments, its investment firm, injected $10.9m (£8.8m) into the company “to cover severance and other redundancy-related costs”.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart told employees in a meeting Thursday afternoon that the company would cease operations “for the foreseeable future.”

The company’s shares plunged 38% in after-hours trading in New York following news of the layoffs.

The layoffs will affect about 675 employees “in all areas of the company,” virgin track It said in a regulatory filing, adding that other total costs were expected to exceed $15 million (£12.1 million).

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Reuters reported last week that Texas-based Matthew Brown had been in talks to invest $200 million (£161 million) in the company, but those talks fell apart last week.

A Financial Times report also suggested that Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart wanted a last-minute investment to prevent the company from collapsing.

Earlier this month, the company laid off almost all of its 750 staff in what Mr Hart called an “operational pause” while Virgin Orbit sought a financial lifeline.

A small number of employees returned to work on March 23 to focus on rocket engine work, according to an email sent to employees at the time.

Virgin Orbit, founded in 2017, was valued at $3.2 billion when it went public in a “blank check deal” in 2021, but a failed satellite launch dealt a major blow to the business.

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The mission, the first-ever launch of a satellite from British soil, was hailed as a major milestone for British space exploration but ended in disappointment after the rocket launch failed to deploy its payload or nine satellites.

The first stage of the mission went as planned, with a modified Boeing 747 called Cosmic Girl flying 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean off the southern coast of Ireland.

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Why did the British rocket fail?

It then deployed a 21-meter rocket called LauncherOne, containing the small satellites that will be the first to be launched into orbit from Western Europe.

But organizers discovered an “anomaly” that caused a “premature shutdown” and the rocket plummeted back to Earth, landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

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