05 April, 2023

Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy......

Virgin Orbit Holdings and its U.S. subsidiaries have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code following its recent failed launch from Cornwall. 

The firm founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017 had already reduced its number of staff due to an inability to raise sufficient out-of-court funds to continue to operate as a going concern. 

“The team at Virgin Orbit has developed and brought into operation a new and innovative method of launching satellites into orbit, introducing new technology and managing great challenges and great risks along the way as we proved the system and performed several successful space flights – including successfully launching 33 satellites into their precise orbit. While we have taken great efforts to address our financial position and secure additional financing, we ultimately must do what is best for the business. We believe that the cutting-edge launch technology that this team has created will have wide appeal to buyers as we continue in the process to sell the Company. At this stage, we believe that the Chapter 11 process represents the best path forward to identify and finalize an efficient and value-maximizing sale,” said Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit.

To help fund the process and protect its operations, the Company has received a commitment from Virgin Investments Limited for $31.6 million in new money DIP financing. Upon approval from the Bankruptcy Court, the DIP financing is expected to provide Virgin Orbit with the necessary liquidity to continue operating as it furthers the marketing process commenced pre-petition to sell the Company and seek a value-maximizing transaction for the business and its assets.

The UK Space Agency confirmed that it had worked with Virgin Orbit for a number of years however the latest issues were of a commercial nature for the company to address and comment on.

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets were designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and were launched from the wing of a modified Boeing 747- 400 aircraft that used to fly on Virgin Atlantic's routes. It had succeeded in some launches with a number of small satellites delivered to orbit for NASA and other companies. However,   the recent failure of the launch from Cornwall's Spaceport sent the firm's shares spiralling and the future is hanging in the balance.  The relatively high cost and the slow launch rate have all had a negative impact on attracting new customers.