Virgin Orbit goes out of business and sells its assets

in Popular STEM4 months ago

(Virgin Orbit / Greg Robinson

Virgin Orbit, a private space company that launched LauncherOne air-launch rockets, has ceased operations.

The company sold its carrier aircraft, manufacturing facilities and equipment to other U.S. aerospace companies.

Virgin Orbit used a lightweight two-stage launcher LauncherOne, which is launched using air launch technology.

A modified Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl aircraft acts as a carrier, which takes the rocket to an initial height of 10 kilometers and drops it.

After that, it begins an independent flight to low Earth orbit, where it can deliver a payload weighing up to 300 kilograms.

The company was founded in 2017 and has conducted a number of aircraft and rocket test flights, as well as 6 LauncherOne space launches, four of which have been successful.

Two launches ended in accidents, including a recent launch from the UK.

In early April of this year, Virgin Orbit, facing major financial problems, filed for bankruptcy and laid off many employees, leaving only a hundred people.

On May 22, 2023, an auction was completed to sell the assets of the company, which has now officially ceased operations.

The auction was won by three aerospace companies:

  • Stratolaunch
  • Rocket Lab
  • Launcher

So far, six LauncherOne rockets that are in the assembly remain unsold.

Stratolaunch, which has the world's longest wing aircraft, has received the Virgin Orbit carrier and the funds needed to operate it.

The company wants to use the aircraft to test the Talon-A hypersonic airframe.

Rocket Lab, which operates the Electron light rocket, will get Virgin Orbit's headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Long Beach, California, including 3D printers and other equipment.

The company will use them to create a new Neutron medium-class launch vehicle.

Finally, Launcher, a startup previously bought by Vast Space that builds a light rocket and orbital tug, will get Virgin Orbit's test facility in Mojave, California.

This deal includes rocket engine test benches and related equipment.


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