From The Verge: Virgin Orbit, the satellite-launching subsidiary of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, has announced that it will lay off 85 percent of its workforce and is ceasing operations “for the foreseeable future.” The company, which aimed to provide a more affordable option for launching small satellites into orbit, had been struggling to secure funding to stay afloat and compete with larger players in the private space industry like SpaceX and Blue Origin.
The news comes two months after its most recent mission in Cornwall, UK failed due to a dislodged rocket fuel filter.
According to a regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Virgin Orbit will end all operations immediately and lay off 675 positions across every department. Layoffs are expected to be complete by April 3rd, leaving just 100 employees remaining at the company. Virgin Orbit will pay approximately $15 million in severance payments and other costs related to winding down the business, paid for by a cash injection of $10.9 million from Branson’s investment arm, Virgin Investments (as reported by the Financial Times).
“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company. We have no choice but to implement immediate, dramatic, and extremely painful changes,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart, according to meeting audio obtained by CNBC. Hart described the meeting as “probably the hardest all-hands that we’ve ever done in my life.”
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