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Virgin Orbit, Richard Branson’s satellite company, is laying off 85% of staff and reportedly ceasing operations ‘for the foreseeable future’

Sir Richard BransonSir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Orbit.

Mark Greenberg

  • Richard Branson’s satellite company, Virgin Orbit, is ceasing operations “for the foreseeable future,” according to CNBC. 
  • The company is also laying off 85% of its workforce after failing to secure much-needed additional funding. 
  • Virgin Orbit was spun out of Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, in 2017. 

Virgin Orbit is laying off nearly all of its staff and reportedly ceasing operations “for the foreseeable future.”

The massive headcount cut came after the ailing company reportedly announced an operational pause on March 16 as it worked to secure additional cash. 

“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company,” CEO Dan Hart told employees, according to audio of a company all-hands meeting obtained by CNBC. 

Hart reportedly told employees that the company had “no choice” but to implement “extremely painful changes,” including laying off nearly all of the company’s staff. 

On Thursday, the company disclosed that it would cut 675 employees, or approximately 85% of its workforce, in a filing with the SEC.  

CNBC reported that Virgin Orbit would offer severance packages for departing staff and a partnership with its sister company, Virgin Galactic, for hiring. 

Virgin Orbit’s stock plunged in after-hours trading on Thursday, falling 40%. The company did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

Virgin Orbit spun off from billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, in 2017. At the time, the company said it would better position Virgin Orbit to serve the small-satellite industry. Branson owns 75% of Virgin Orbit, according to CNBC. 

The spun-off venture offered lower-cost launch-to-orbit services for small satellites.

Earlier this year, the company attempted to launch 9 satellites from the UK, but the company’s launcher failed to reach orbit.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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