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Rocket Failure Halts Branson’s Space Mission: Virgin Orbit Update

Virgin Orbit Ceases Operations Following Rocket Failure: Branson’s Rocket Company Sells Assets

Sir Richard Branson’s rocket company, Virgin Orbit, has permanently halted its operations after a significant mission failure, culminating in the sale of its assets. The company sold its assets for $36 million (£29 million), representing just 1% of its $3.7 billion valuation before its Nasdaq debut in the previous year.

Facing financial difficulties, Virgin Orbit announced in March its plans to reduce its workforce by 85% after failing to secure new investments. The California-based firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States in early April. Before that, operations were temporarily suspended to address financial concerns.

Virgin Orbit’s rocket factory and equipment at its headquarters were acquired by Rocket Lab, a rival start-up, for $16.1 million. Aerospace firm Stratolaunch purchased the converted Boeing 747 jet known as Cosmic Girl for $17 million. Furthermore, Launcher Inc., another space company, acquired Virgin Orbit’s launch site and leased in the Mojave Desert for $2.7 million.

Since its establishment in 2017, Virgin Orbit, part of Sir Richard’s business empire, which includes Virgin Atlantic Airline and Virgin Galactic space tourism company, has never achieved profitability as a public company. The company specializes in developing rockets for small satellite launches.

One notable setback for Virgin Orbit occurred in January when its LauncherOne rocket, launched from the Boeing 747 aircraft Cosmic Girl, failed to reach its intended orbit during the first-ever satellite mission launched from U.K. soil. The mission was highly anticipated and seen as a milestone for U.K. space exploration, aiming to establish the country as a prominent player in satellite manufacturing, rocket construction, and spaceports development.

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