Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit to cut 675 jobs, 85% of workforce

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is laying off nearly its entire workforce as the satellite launch company struggles to secure funding three months after a failed mission.

The Long Beach, California-based company will cut 675 jobs, about 85% of its workforce, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

Earlier this month Virgin Orbit said it was suspend all activities between reports of possible job cuts. At the time, the company confirmed that it was pausing all work, but did not say for how long.

In January, a Mission Virgin Orbit’s mission to launch the first satellites into orbit from Europe failed after the rocket’s upper stage stopped working prematurely. It was a setback in the UK which had hoped that the launch from Cornwall in south-west England would mark the beginning of more commercial opportunities for the UK space industry.

The company said in February that an investigation had found that its rocket fuel filter had malfunctioned, causing one engine to overheat and other components to malfunction over the Atlantic. .

Virgin Orbit has completed four successful satellite launches to date from California for the US government’s combined defense and commercial use.

Virgin Orbit said in a regulatory filing on Friday that job cuts would occur in all areas of the company.

It expects about $15.5 million in fees related to job cuts, with the majority of the fees taking place in the first quarter. The company anticipates $8.8 million for severance payments and employee benefits costs and $6.5 million for other employee-related expenses.

Virgin Orbit predicts most job cuts will be completed by Monday.

Virgin Orbit, listed on Nasdaq securities, founded in 2017 by British billionaire Richard Branson to target the market for launching small satellites into space. Its LauncherOne rockets are launched from the air from modified Virgin airliners, giving the company more flexibility than using fixed launch sites.

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