Richard Branson’s Rocket Company Shuts Down for ‘Foreseeable Future’

Richard Branson’s Rocket Company Shuts Down for ‘Foreseeable Future’

Following a failed rocket launch earlier this year, Richard Branson’s private space venture has been struggling to stay afloat.

Virgin Orbit is laying off 85% of its workforce, or 675 employees, and ceasing operations for the foreseeable future “in order to reduce expenses in light of the company’s inability to secure meaningful funding,” the company wrotforee in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company,” CEO Dan Hart told employees during an all-hands meeting on Thursday, CNBC reported. “We have no choice but to implement immediate, dramatic and extremely painful changes.”

Following the company’s announcement, Virgin Orbit’s stock fell by 41% on Thursday, according to Quartz.

Earlier this month, the rocket launch company announced that it was pausing operations and furloughing nearly all of its staff. The company has been showing signs of financial struggles, with Branson pumping over $US50 ($69) million into the company since November of last year. Virgin Orbit ended the third quarter of 2022 with $US71 ($99) million in cash on hand and an operating loss of $US50 ($69).5 million, SpaceNews reported based on a company earnings call.

Things took a dire turn earlier this year, sending the company over the edge. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket suffered a fatal anomaly in January, destroying nine satellites on board and foiling the company’s first attempt to launch from British soil. The company’s future launches were put on hold and its stock fell by 22% immediately after, CNBC reported at the time.

Just last week, there was a brief moment of hope for Virgin Orbit as the company was in talks with Texas-based investor Matthew Brown for a possible $US200 ($278) million deal. However, the deal did not pan out and the company failed to secure new funding to resuscitate its operations.

Virgin Orbit officials were optimistic about seeing the company’s mothership Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing aircraft that serves as a rocket carrier, fly over British soil again, but that now seems unlikely.

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