Virgin Orbit Furloughs Nearly All Employees as Company Seeks Additional Funding
Virgin Orbit, the spaceflight company owned by Sir Richard Branson, has announced that it will furlough nearly all of its employees for an undisclosed period as it seeks additional funding to support its operations. The company has faced significant operational setbacks, including a failed attempt of its first orbital launch in January, which resulted in a 20% drop in its shares. Additionally, the company has seen an overall decline in stock market interest since late 2022, which has pulled the company's current market valuation down to just $230 million for March 2023.
The company has already started talks to strengthen funding for the Long Beach-based launch service and is examining further "strategic options" to develop a new investment plan. Despite the financial woes, the carrier has outlined plans to double its 2022 launch rate, bolster its revenue, and expand its backlog for launches, international bases, and work with defense companies.
Virgin Orbit's next launch is set to take off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California for a commercial customer, though a date has yet to be revealed. The company previously pledged to make a second satellite launch attempt in the United Kingdom later this year.
In November, the carrier stated that its next production rocket with the necessary modifications incorporated was in final stages of integration and test. In March, the company confirmed that it had made the required updates to LauncherOne.
Virgin Orbit's financials for Q4 2022 have yet to be published.