Goodbye to Virgin Orbit

Bankrupt company sells $36M in assets, waves goodbye
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 9:40 AM CDT
Virgin Orbit Is Dead
A Virgin Orbit Boeing 747-400 aircraft named Cosmic Girl prepares to land back at Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles on May 25, 2020.   (AP Photo/Matt Hartman)

Virgin Orbit is no more. Richard Branson's company, which sought to deliver satellites to low Earth orbit using a modified Boeing 747, has officially shut down after failing to secure the necessary funding to stay afloat. Its first-ever satellite mission in the UK in January was marred by a "technical failure." The firm paused operations in March and filed for bankruptcy protection the following month. In recent weeks, Branson told the BBC that he personally lost $1.8 billion during the pandemic with lockdowns hammering his airline and leisure businesses, apparently leaving him unable or unwilling to invest more dollars in the once-successful offshoot of his space tourism company Virgin Galactic.

"Virgin Orbit's legacy in the space industry will forever be remembered," the company said Tuesday, per CNBC. "Its groundbreaking technologies, relentless pursuit of excellence, and unwavering commitment to advancing the frontiers of air launch have left an indelible mark on the industry." A day earlier, the company sold its assets to three commercial space companies at auction. Stratolaunch paid $17 million for Virgin Orbit's 747 and other aircraft assets, while Rocket Lab USA nabbed the company's headquarters in Long Beach, California, and various equipment for $16.1 million. Vast Space subsidiary Launcher purchased the company's facility in Mojave, California, and some other items for $2.7 million, while liquidation company Inliper scooped up office equipment for $650,000. (More Virgin Orbit stories.)

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