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Virgin Orbit Lays Off Most of its Workforce 

By Rachel Jewett | March 31, 2023

      Virgin Orbit’s carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port with LauncherOne underwing for the Tubular Bells: Part One mission on June 30, 2021. Photo: Virgin Orbit.

      Virgin Orbit laid off about 85% of its workforce, approximately 675 employees, after it was unable to secure funding. 

      The smallsat launcher disclosed the layoffs in filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 31. Virgin Orbit said layoffs affect all areas of the company and will be complete by April 3. 

      The launcher expects to incur about $8.8 million in severance payments and employee benefits costs, and $6.5 million in other costs. 

      This follows after Virgin Orbit paused operations the week of March 16 to conserve capital. The smallsat launcher has funding troubles, and had just $71.2 million in cash at the end of September 2022, after spending $45 million during the third quarter. Then in January, the company suffered its first failure in a high-profile first mission from the United Kingdom. 

      The Friday filings said Virgin Orbit had an “inability to secure meaningful funding,” after it was in talks for new investment. Reuters previously reported it was nearing a deal with venture capital investor Matthew Brown, but the deal fell apart. 

      Virgin Orbit went public in a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger at the end of 2021, but the company only came away with $228 million in gross proceeds, significantly less than expected.