The days of Virgin Orbit sending satellites into space on aircraft-launched rockets came to an end on Thursday. After six years in business, Virgin’s satellite launch subsidiary announced through an SEC filing that it did not have the funds to continue operating and was closing “for the time being.” Nearly 90% of Virgin Orbit’s employees (675 total) will be laid off immediately.
Virgin Orbit was formed in 2017 to develop and commercialize a satellite launch system mounted underneath a modified 747 airliner called Cosmic Girl. The system is designed to launch a 500-pound CubeSat into low-Earth orbit by rocketing it from an airliner flying at an altitude of 30,000 to 50,000 feet. Despite a string of early successes, both in terms of and , LauncherOne’s first official test in May 2020.
According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!
— Virgin Orbit (@VirginOrbit) January 17, 2021
However, in January 2022, a second attempt was successful, and that June, Virgin Orbit’s first commercial satellite was launched. January 2022 and .
Virgin Orbit has made a total of six flights between 2020 and 2023, with only four being successful. The latest attempt start me up The rocket successfully separated from its parent spacecraft, but an “anomaly” in the upper stage prevented the rocket’s payload from entering orbit. I couldn’t. Later it was decided and a failure occurred.
As TechCrunch Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, points out that in recent months he has “spent more than $55 million on sinking space companies”. start me up An embarrassing failure turned out to be the final straw. On March 16, Virgin Orbit announced the furlough of about 750 employees as company management scrambling to find new sources of funding. The company resigned on Thursday, two weeks later.
Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin “We have no choice but to implement immediate, dramatic and extremely painful changes.”
Affected employees will receive a severance package, which includes cash payments, ongoing benefits, and a “direct pipeline” to Virgin Galactic’s recruiting department, Hart said. His two top executives at Virgin Orbit said he will also receive a “golden parachute” severance payment approved by the company’s board of directors, conveniently in mid-March when the layoffs first took effect.