July 14, 2024

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Virgin Orbit: Branson’s rocket dream ends after mission fails

Virgin Orbit: Branson’s rocket dream ends after mission fails

  • By Peter Hoskins
  • Business reporter

image source, Ministry of Defense

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit rocket company has closed its doors just months after its mission failed.

It comes weeks after the company, which began launching satellites, temporarily halted operations in a bid to boost its finances.

She has been selling the items she owns in an effort to survive, including her plane, called the Cosmic Girl, as well as most of her headquarters in California.

The mission has been described as a milestone for UK space exploration.

It was hoped that the launch, named Start Me Up after the 1981 Rolling Stones hit, would turn the country into a global player — from manufacturing satellites to building rockets and creating new spaceports.

But the rocket experienced an anomaly that “prematurely terminated” the first burn and Sir Richard’s dream of space was over.

After two months, the company “has ceased all operations” in an apparent effort to shore up its finances and nearly all employees have been laid off.

The Virgin boss is no stranger to financial difficulties.

Earlier this month, Sir Richard told the BBC that he had personally lost around £1.5 billion during the pandemic. “There was a time when I thought we were going to lose everything,” he said.

“The connection between people is changing because of space travel and satellites there,” he said. “Monitoring things like rainforest looting and poaching… [there are] All these kinds of benefits that come from space travel.”

When it became apparent that Virgin Orbit was unable to secure long-term financing, it filed for bankruptcy protection in the US early last month.

Rival startup Rocket Lab has bought Virgin Orbit’s headquarters, rocket factory and equipment.

Virgin Orbit, founded in 2017, has never made a profit as a public company.

It developed rockets to carry small satellites and was part of Sir Richard’s business empire, which includes the airline Virgin Atlantic and the space tourism company Virgin Galactic.

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