Virgin Orbit reportedly furloughs staff, suspending all operations

Virgin Orbit said on Thursday it was halting all operations amid reports that the company is laying off almost all of its staff as part of an effort to get a funding lifeline.

The US-based satellite launch company confirmed it was halting all operations, but did not say how long the freeze would last.

“Virgin Orbit is beginning a company-wide operational pause, effective March 16, 2023, and expects to provide an update on operations moving forward in the coming weeks,” the company said in a statement.

The company did not comment on reports by media outlets including Reuters and CNBC that a small number of all workers would be placed on temporary unpaid furlough.

Virgin Orbit, which is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, was founded in 2017 by British billionaire Richard Branson to target the market for sending small satellites into space. Its Launchron rockets are launched from air-modified Virgin passenger jets, allowing the company to operate more flexibly than using fixed launch sites.

In January, Virgin Orbit’s mission to send its first satellite into orbit from Europe failed when the upper stage of its launcher rocket experienced “an anomaly” that caused it to crash, according to the company. Closed before. website. The failure was a disappointment to Virgin Orbit and the British space authorities, who had high hopes that the launch would open up further commercial opportunities for the UK space industry.

747 “Space Girl” The jet — a repurposed Virgin Atlantic passenger jet, with a 70-foot-long, 57,000-pound Launcher One rocket tucked under its left wing — took off from Newquay, Cornwall Airport, off the southwest coast of Great Britain, on January 9. First billed as an orbital launch. From the UK and Western Europe.

Virgin Orbit UK space mission fails after rocket suffers “anomaly” after launch


After a successful ascent into space, Cosmic Girl successfully released Launcher One, but the rocket ran into trouble before reaching orbit.

The company said last month that an investigation into the failure found that its rocket’s fuel filter had worn out, causing one engine to overheat and damage other components. The nine small satellites it carried fell back to Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Our investigations are almost complete and our next production rocket, incorporating the necessary modifications, is in the final stages of integration and testing,” Virgin Orbit said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the Virgin Orbit site, the investigation involves oversight by US and UK regulators, including the US Federal Aviation Administration and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

The company has said its next launch will be for a commercial customer from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port. He has not provided a date.

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