Richard Branson's rocket company Virgin Orbit lays off 85% of workforce

Richard Branson's rocket company Virgin Orbit lays off 85% of workforce
Representational imageVirgin Orbit
Virgin Orbit, the rocket company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, has laid off nearly 85 per cent of its workforce -- about 675 employees -- after it failed to secure a key funding.

Virgin Orbit has ceased operations "for the foreseeable future", its CEO Dan Hart told employees late on Thursday.

"Unfortunately, we've not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company. We have no choice but to implement immediate and extremely painful changes," Hart told the employees.

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In a US securities filing, the company announced a workforce reduction of approximately 675 employees, constituting approximately 85 per cent of the company's workforce "in order to reduce expenses in light of the Company's inability to secure meaningful funding".

Those impacted are located in all areas of the company.


The company estimated that the move will incur aggregate charges of approximately $15 million, consisting primarily of $8.8 million in severance payments and employee benefits costs and $6.5 million in other costs primarily related to outplacement services and WARN Act exposure.

"The company expects to recognise the majority of these charges in the first quarter of 2023. It expects that the reduction in force will be substantially complete by April 3, 2023," the filing read.

Branson founded Virgin Orbit in 2017 after spinning off from its sister company, Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Orbit has been developing an air-launched rocket, dubbed LauncherOne, for hauling small satellites to orbit.

In January, its rocket carrying satellites into space suffered an "anomaly", abruptly ending the first foray into orbital launch from the UK territory.

An investigation into that failed mission "is nearly complete and our next production rocket with the needed modification incorporated is in final stages of integration and test", a Virgin Orbit spokesperson said in a March 15 statement.


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