Virgin Orbit said Thursday it has paused all operations amid reports that the company is furloughing nearly all of its employees as part of a bid to obtain lifeline financing.
The California-based satellite launch company confirmed it had halted all work, but did not say for how long.
“Virgin Orbit is commencing a company-wide operational shutdown, effective March 16, 2023, and expects to provide an update on ongoing operations in the coming weeks,” the company said in a statement.
It said the move was to “preserve liquidity while the company continues to evaluate all available options”.
The company declined to comment on reports that all but a handful of workers will be placed on temporary unpaid leave.
Virgin Orbit, listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, was founded in 2017 by British billionaire Richard Branson to target the market for launching small satellites into space. LauncherOne’s missiles are air launched from modified Virgin passenger planes, allowing the company to operate more flexibly than using fixed launch sites.
in january, a task by Virgin Orbit to launch the world’s first satellites orbit from Europe after prematurely closing its rocket’s upper stage. The failure was a disappointment for Virgin Orbit and British space officials, who had high hopes that the launch, which took off from Cornwall in southwest England, would mark the beginning of more commercial opportunities for the UK space industry.
The company said last month that an investigation found that the rocket fuel filter had been displaced, causing the engine to overheat and other components to fail. the nine small satellites It carried back to Earth and crash-landed in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Our investigation is near completion and our next production rocket, with the required modification, is in the final stages of integration and testing,” Virgin Orbit said in its statement on Thursday.
the a company He said his next launch will take place from Mojave Air and Space Port in California for a commercial client. No date provided.
Virgin Orbit has completed four successful businesses Satellites It has so far been launched from California for a mix of commercial and US government defense uses. Other than the UK, it also has ambitions to expand its operations into mainland Europe and South Korea.
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