Virgin Orbit, the satellite launching company founded by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. The company, which was launched in 2017, has developed innovative technology that allows it to deliver lightweight satellites to orbit quickly and cheaply using small rockets called Launcher One. The company’s rockets take off from modified Boeing 747 planes.
In a statement released on its website on Monday, Virgin Orbit said that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which will allow it to continue doing business while it restructures its debts. The statement also revealed that Virgin Investments, one of Virgin Orbit’s sister companies, will be injecting $31.6 million into the satellite launcher to help it stay afloat while it searches for a new owner.
Virgin Orbit’s CEO, Dan Hart, said in the statement that the company’s “cutting-edge launch technology” would have “wide appeal to buyers as we continue in the process to sell the company.” Virgin Orbit has recently declared that it will cut down its workforce by approximately 85% as a measure to minimize expenses. This move comes after the company failed to obtain extra funding, which has led to financial difficulties. The announcement of the layoffs was made just a few days before this statement.
Virgin Orbit’s bankruptcy filing follows a difficult period for the company. In January, the company’s first attempt to launch a satellite from UK soil failed when one of its rockets overheated, preventing it from making it to orbit. However, the company had previously completed four successful launches from California.
Virgin Orbit is one of several companies, including Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, that has attempted to commercialize satellite launching. Virgin Orbit’s unique approach of launching rockets from modified planes was designed to offer a more flexible and cost-effective way to launch small satellites into space.
The company’s innovative technology and potential appeal to buyers could make it an attractive acquisition target for companies looking to enter the satellite launching industry. Virgin Orbit’s CEO Dan Hart remains optimistic about the future of the company, stating that he believes the company’s technology will continue to attract interest from potential buyers.
Despite the bankruptcy filing, Virgin Orbit’s cutting-edge technology has the potential to revolutionize the satellite launching industry. The company’s unique approach to launching rockets could make it an attractive acquisition target for companies looking to enter the industry. With Virgin Investments injecting funds to keep the company afloat, and the potential for a sale of the company’s technology, there is still hope for the future of Virgin Orbit.