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Richard Branson’s satellite launching firm Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy protection

Virgin Orbit filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after it failed to obtain the necessary funding to recover from the January rocket crash.

Virgin Orbit is 75% owned and managed by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. The filing was made in the US Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, seeking to sell its assets.

It listed assets in excess of $243m (PS195m), and total debt in excess of $153.5m (PS123m), as of September 30, 2018.

Dan Hart, chief executive of Virgin Orbit, stated that the team at Virgin Orbit had developed and put into operation a novel method for launching satellites into orbit. He also introduced new technology and managed great challenges and great risk along the way. The system was proven and several successful space flights were performed, including the successful launch of 33 satellites into the orbits they were designed.


“We have made great efforts to improve our financial situation and secure additional financing. However, ultimately we must do the best thing for the company.

“We are confident that the innovative launch technology this team created will be attractive to potential buyers as we move forward with the sale of the company.

“At this stage we believe that Chapter 11 is the best way forward to identify an efficient and value-maximising sales sale.”

Image: Sir Richard Branson

Chapter 11 allows the restructuring of a failing company to keep it alive and pay creditors.

Chapter 7 is a chapter that deals with the sale of assets to repay lenders.

Virgin Orbit, a California-based company, announced last week that it would lay off 85% of its staff and cease operations in the near future.

This decision was made after the company canceled the UK’s first satellite launch in January from Cornwall, blaming an “anomaly”.

Continue reading:

Can the UK be considered a superpower in space?

Virgin Orbit fires 85% of its workforce and suspends operations ‘for the foreseeable future’

After an ‘anomaly,’ the UK space launch crew is ‘gutted.

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“LauncherOne has experienced an anomaly”

LauncherOne’s rocket crashed into orbit, sending its payload of intelligence satellites from the US and UK plunging into space.

According to securities filings, between November and March, Sir Richard Branson Virgin Group provided $50m (PS40m), through debt secured against the equipment of its satellite launch company.

The company was unable to launch in the UK and had to search for new funding. It halted operations and furloughed its majority of staff mid-March.

Virgin Orbit stated last week that the company was “unable to secure meaningful financing”.

Virgin Orbit’s market value was $65m (PS52.4m), based on Monday closing price. This is a decrease of more than $3bn (2.2.4bn) two-years ago.


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