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Virgin Orbit crashes back to Earth after running out of money

Virgin Orbit, Sir Richard Branson’s aerospace technology start-up, which launches rockets into the sky from under a 747, is shutting down after failing to raise more funding.

CNBC reports that Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit, told staff most operations will cease “for the foreseeable future”, with 675 people losing their jobs and 100 remaining.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to secure the financing to put this company on a clear path,” Hart told staff.

“We have no choice but to make immediate, dramatic and extremely painful changes.”

In its Nasdaq filing, Virgin Orbit said 85% of jobs will disappearat a cost of approximately $15 million.

Virgin Orbit had sent its team on leave in mid-March as it sought additional capital. A week ago, Reports emerged that Matthew Brown, an American VC investor, was preparing to commit $200 million in the company.

The company’s share price is down more than 80% since early 2023 and is now at 0.34 US cents.

Virgin Orbit’s billionaire founder and majority shareholder, Sir Richard Branson, refused to provide additional capital.

Things haven’t gone according to plan for Virgin Orbit, with a failed launch of the 747, dubbed “Cosmic Girl”, from the UK in January. The rocket, which had 9 satellites on board, crashed after a problem with the second stage. A $100 part is believed to be the cause.

The success rate of six missions since 2020 is 66% – four worked, two failed, including that most recent attempt.

Virgin Orbit was a spin-out of Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic in 2017. The British entrepreneur held a 75% stake in the company, which listed on the Nasdaq in December 2021 through a SPAC deal that didn’t go as planned. only $228 million of the $483 million sought. The shares were worth $10 each, and the company would be valued at $3.7 billion

CNBC reported earlier this month that Virgin Orbit was being put up for sale for about $200 million as the company attempted to stave off bankruptcy.

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