San Francisco, May 24 (IANS) Virgin Orbit, the bankrupt rocket company founded by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, has shut down operations after selling its business to three aerospace companies for about $36 million in a bankruptcy auction.
Rocket Lab bid $16.1 million for the company’s headquarters in Long Beach, California. Stratolaunch was awarded its $17 million “stalking horse” bid for Virgin Orbit’s 747 jet.
Launcher, a subsidiary of Vast Space, bought the company’s facility in Mojave, California for $2.7 million, reports CNBC.
“As Virgin Orbit embarks on this path, the management and employees would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all stakeholders,” the company said in a statement.
In April, Virgin Orbit laid off nearly 85 per cent of its workforce — about 675 employees — after it failed to secure key funding.
Rocket Lab said the Virgin Orbit assets will improve its production, manufacturing, and test capabilities, especially in developing its larger Neutron rocket.
Virgin Orbit’s six rockets in various stages of manufacturing assembly, and its intellectual property, are yet to be sold.
Founded by Sir Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021, and delivered commercial, civil, national security, and international satellites into orbit.
Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747-400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc to operate from locations all over the world.