Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit has shut down following the sale of its assets to rival companies for $36m (£29m). The sale is a fraction of the $3.7bn the company was valued at in 2021 and comes months after Virgin Orbit attempted the UK’s first orbital satellite launch.
Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747 used to launch satellites, is flying off to new owner Stratolaunch for $17m (£13.7m).
The company’s more than 144,000 square foot Long Beach California HQ and rocket manufacturing base will go to rival Rocket Lab for $16.1m (£13m).
Launcher Inc. is acquiring Virgin Orbit’s Mojave facility lease, machinery and equipment for $2.7m (£2.2m).
A Virgin Orbit statement read: “As Virgin Orbit embarks on this path, the management and employees would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all stakeholders, including customers, partners, investors, and employees, for their support and dedication over the years.”
“It is through their collective efforts that the company has been able to achieve significant milestones and make lasting contributions to the advancement of satellite launch in the United States and the United Kingdom.”
After an unsuccessful launch in January from Spaceport Cornwall, the company began a rapid downward spiral.
It then filed for bankruptcy at the start of April. The sell-off gives rival rocket companies the opportunity to pick up assets at a heavily discounted rate.
“Securing the lease to the Conant Facility adds to our existing presence in Long Beach and provides co-located engineering, manufacturing, and test capabilities for our Neutron team,” said Rocket Lab, CEO and founder, Peter Beck.