Virgin Orbit Holdings Inc., a satellite-launching company that recently filed for bankruptcy protection, has announced the layoff of 661 workers at its facilities in Long Beach and Mojave, California. The company filed a notice with state officials, stating that 603 workers at its facility in Long Beach and 58 workers in Mojave would be laid off permanently, effective April 3.
The Long Beach-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 4 after failing to secure additional funding following a failed mission earlier this year. Prior to the bankruptcy filing, Virgin Orbit had announced plans to cut 675 jobs, which would amount to 85% of its staff.
Virgin Orbit has now filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, proposing a May 4 deadline for indications of interest for its assets. The company has also requested the court’s approval for bid procedures, including a bid deadline of May 14, 2023.
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart expressed optimism about the company’s prospects, stating, “We continue to make important progress and remain focused on positioning the company to complete our sale process to the benefit of all stakeholders.” He further added that the filing of the bankruptcy plan and disclosure statement would aid in efficiently concluding the Chapter 11 process after the sale of the company. A court hearing to consider the approval of the bankruptcy plan is scheduled for May 24.
Founded by Richard Branson in 2017, Virgin Orbit had pioneered satellite launches using a Boeing 747 plane carrying rockets at high altitudes, instead of traditional ground-based rocket launches. The company had successfully launched 33 satellites into orbit before facing a setback in January with a failed attempt to launch satellites from British soil. Although the 747 took off successfully, a second-stage engine experienced an “anomaly” and failed to reach orbit, resulting in the loss of nine satellites. Virgin Orbit later attributed the failure to a dislodged filter.