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Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit company ceases operations months after failure of UK space mission



Virgin Orbit, the satellite launch company created by British billionaire Richard Branson, will halt operations permanently, barely months after a space mission failed.

Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit company ceases operations months after failure of UK space mission 3


The California-based company, which had already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States in early April, has auctioned off its key assets, netting slightly over $36 million. That price is less than 1% of the company’s valuation on Wall Street in late 2021, when it was valued at $3.5 billion.

Virgin Orbit praised its staff and stakeholders in a statement announcing the sale of its assets to four winning bidders and subsequently folding, saying the company will be remembered for its “groundbreaking technologies.”

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“Throughout its history, Virgin Orbit has been at the forefront of innovation and has made substantial contributions to the field of commercial rocket launch,” the company said on Tuesday, May 23.

The satellite launch company was founded as part of the space tourism enterprise Virgin Galactic, which took Branson into sub-orbital flight nine days before his billionaire opponent, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, in 2021.


Its purpose was to provide quick and adaptive space launch services to the burgeoning market for tiny satellites.

The company suffered a crippling setback earlier this year when an attempt to launch the first rocket into space from British soil ended in failure. In January, the launch of a rocket from Cornwall drew huge crowds and mass interest. The company said the rocket could not reach the required altitude and was later lost.

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