Virgin Orbit Richard Branson's Rocket Venture Comes to an End Following Mission Setback

Virgin Orbit: Richard Branson’s Rocket Venture Comes to an End Following Mission Setback

Sir Richard Branson’s ambitious rocket company, Virgin Orbit, has officially closed its doors, culminating in a series of setbacks and a significant mission failure.

The company’s assets, including its converted jet and leased properties, have been sold for $36 million (£29 million).

This amount pales compared to the $3.7 billion valuation the company enjoyed in 2021.

Virgin Orbit faced a substantial blow in March as it could not secure new investment, forcing the company to announce extensive workforce reductions.

Consequently, the California-based firm filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States in early April.

To stabilize its financial situation, Virgin Orbit temporarily suspended its operations.

Virgin Orbit suffered a high-profile setback earlier this year when its rocket failed to complete the inaugural satellite launch from UK soil.

The mission, which aimed to be a historic achievement, encountered obstacles that prevented its successful completion.

As a result, Virgin Orbit faced mounting challenges and financial strain.

In a surprising turn of events, rival start-up Rocket Lab purchased Virgin Orbit’s headquarters, rocket factory, and equipment for $16.1 million.

Additionally, aerospace firm Stratolaunch acquired Virgin Orbit’s converted Boeing 747 jet, fondly known as Cosmic Girl, for $17 million.

Lastly, Launcher Inc., another player in the space industry, obtained Virgin Orbit’s launch site and leased in the Mojave desert for $2.7 million.

Despite its promising inception in 2017, Virgin Orbit struggled to generate profits as a publicly traded company.

So instead, the company focused on developing rockets capable of launching small satellites and operated under Sir Richard’s diverse business empire, which encompasses the renowned airline Virgin Atlantic and space tourism venture Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Orbit’s aspirations suffered a severe blow in January when the highly anticipated satellite mission, designed to be the first ever launched from UK soil, failed.

Although Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket successfully reached space, it fell short of attaining its intended orbit.

Nevertheless, this mission had been touted as a significant milestone for UK space exploration, intended to propel the country forward as a global force in satellite manufacturing, rocket construction, and the establishment of new spaceports.

As Virgin Orbit officially concludes its operations, the space industry will undoubtedly keep a watchful eye on future endeavors within the domain, eagerly awaiting the next breakthroughs and advancements that will shape the future of space exploration.

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