Virgin Orbit, a satellite launch company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, has announced that it will be ceasing its operations “for the foreseeable future” and laying off almost its entire workforce.
The company has been struggling financially and failed to secure a funding lifeline, which left it with no choice but to implement immediate, extremely painful, and dramatic changes, according to CEO Dan Hart.
Hart held a difficult all-hands meeting with employees, during which he audibly choked and stated that it was the hardest meeting he had ever conducted.
The company plans to lay off around 675 positions, which comes up to almost 85% of its workforce. Hart said that the layoffs would affect every department and team, with only 100 positions remaining.
Despite the devastating news, Hart stated that the company would provide a severance package for every employee losing their job. The package includes an extension of benefits, cash payment, and support in finding a new position. The company has also set up a direct pipeline with its sister company, Virgin Galactic, for hiring.
Virgin Orbit shuts down
Virgin Orbit was established in 2017 with the aim of launching small satellites into space. However, the company has struggled to secure enough contracts to cover its expenses, which has led to its current financial situation.
The company’s main competitor is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has been dominating the commercial space industry in recent years. The decision to shut down Virgin Orbit comes as a significant blow to Richard Branson, who has been investing heavily in the company.
Branson is also the founder of Virgin Galactic, which is a space tourism company that plans to take passengers on suborbital flights. Virgin Galactic has been struggling with delays in its launch schedule, and the pandemic has further hampered its plans.
The closure of Virgin Orbit is also a setback for the UK’s ambitions to become a major player in the space industry. The company had established a manufacturing facility in Cornwall, which was expected to create hundreds of jobs in the region.
Virgin Orbit’s announcement to shut down its operations and lay off almost its entire workforce is a significant blow to the company’s employees, Richard Branson, and the UK’s space industry.
While the company plans to support its employees during this difficult time, it remains to be seen whether it will be able to bounce back and compete with its rivals in the commercial space industry.
The closure of Virgin Orbit is still a setback for the UK’s ambitions to become a major player in the space industry. The UK government has been investing heavily in the sector, with the aim of creating thousands of high-tech jobs and generating billions of pounds in revenue.
The closure of Virgin Orbit’s manufacturing facility in Cornwall is a blow to these ambitions and could slow down the sector’s growth in the UK.