Virgin Orbit Shuts Down for a Week, Furloughs Almost All Staff, Seeks Funds

Virgin Orbit is furloughing nearly all its employees and pausing operations for a week as it looks for a funding lifeline, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

Company executives briefed staff on the situation in an all-hands meeting at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, according to people who were in the meeting. The furlough is unpaid, though employees can cash in PTO, with only a small team continuing to work. Virgin Orbit is also moving up payroll by a week to Friday.

In the all-hands, company leaders told employees that they aimed to provide an update on the furlough and funding situation by next Wednesday or Thursday, according to the people, who requested to remain anonymous to discuss internal matters.

Five days ago:


Virgin Orbit stock (VORB) is down 11.8% to US$ 0.89/share in after-market trading. This is down 91% from the US$ 10 SPAC offering price.


Another victim of the Fed’s interest rate hikes?

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More a victim of their launch failure on 2023-01-09, as reported here. At the time, Jeff Foust of SpaceNews reported:

The failure comes at a precarious time for Virgin Orbit, which has struggled to increase its launch rate and generate revenue. The company, in a Nov. 7 earnings call, reported it closed the third quarter with $71 million in cash, after reporting negative free cash flow of $52.5 million. The company raised $25 million from Virgin Group in early November and another $20 million from Virgin Investments Limited, an investment arm of the Virgin Group, Dec. 20.

With competition growing in the small satellite launch market, and Rocket Lab and SpaceX (with their ride share Transporter missions) offering comparable services and a record of reliability, it’s hard to raise money after a launch failure that deposited nine customers’ satellites in the drink and only four successes in six attempts.

All of the venture capital herd is now stampeding into artificial intelligence and space is yesterday’s Current Thing.