Virgin Orbit officially closes its space launch operations | engaged

Virgin Orbit’s days of flinging satellites into space aboard aircraft-launched rockets came to an end on Thursday. After six years of operation, Virgin’s satellite launch subsidiary has announced via an SEC filing that it lacks the funds to continue operating and will be closing “in the near future”. , Around 90 per cent of Virgin Orbit’s workforce – a total of 675 people – will be furloughed with immediate effect.

Virgin Orbit was founded in 2017 with the aim of developing and commercializing a satellite launch system aboard a modified 747 aircraft named Cosmic Girl. The system is designed to launch a 500-pound CubeSat into low Earth orbit by rocketing it from an aircraft flying at an altitude of 30,000-50,000 feet. Despite a series of initial successes – and in terms of both – the first official test of LauncherOne in May 2020.

However, a second attempt in January 2022 was successful, as was Virgin Orbit’s first commercial satellite launch in June. It successfully launched seven more satellites into orbit in January 2022.

Overall, of the six flights Virgin Orbit has made between 2020 and 2023, only four have been successful. was the latest attempt make me happy event and will mark the first commercial space launch from British soil. Despite the rocket successfully separating from its parent aircraft, an upper stage “anomaly” prevented the rocket’s payload from reaching orbit. This was later fixed and resulted in the error.

If techcrunch points out that Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, has invested more than $55 million in the sinking space company in recent months, but start me ups The humiliating failure proved to be the last straw. On 16 March, Virgin Orbit announced “time off” and work leave for approximately 750 of its employees, as management looked for new sources of funding. The company shut down two weeks later and went out of business on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, we have not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path forward for this business,” Virgin CEO Dan Hart said in a telephone call. , “We have no choice but to make immediate, dramatic and extremely painful changes.”

According to Hart, affected employees will reportedly receive severance pay, which includes cash payments, ongoing benefits and a “direct pipeline” to Virgin Galactic’s recruiting department. Virgin Orbit’s two top executives will also receive ‘golden parachute’ severance pay, which was favorably approved by the company’s board of directors in mid-March, exactly when the leave first came into effect.

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