Virgin Orbit lays off 675 staff after cash injection fails

Richard Branson’s satellite launch company has uncertain future, according to media reports

Virgin Orbit announced the layoff of 675 employees on March 30. They represent about 85% of the workforce of the company that launches small satellites.

The mass dismissal comes days after an attempt to inject capital into the company failed, shaken by losses and also by the failure to launch a payload to space from the United Kingdom in January.

The company founded by billionaire Richard Branson operated from a base in California using a Boeing 747-400 adapted to launch the LaucherOne two-stage rocket.

In January, the company organized what would be the first launch of a satellite from Europe, in the so-called SpacePort Cornwall, in Newquay. The launch, however, was unsuccessful due to a failure in the second stage of the rocket.

According to a report to investors, Virgin Orbit said it will spend about $15 million to compensate employees.

The Boeing 747-400 “Cosmic Girl” in Newquay (UKCAA)

The company expected to receive an investment of US$ 200 million from a Texan businessman last week, but the deal would have failed, according to Reuters.

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Branson also has another space project, Virgin Galactic, which aims to send ordinary people into low orbit using the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft that is dropped from the air by the White Knight Two plane.

The space tourism company, however, has only performed one launch with passengers, in July 2021, with Branson on board.


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