Virgin Orbit Is Laying Off Almost All of Its Workers

Satellite launch firm has failed to secure funding lifeline
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2023 7:24 AM CDT
Virgin Orbit Is Laying Off Almost All of Its Workers
This undated photo provided by the UK Space Agency on Thursday March 16, 2023 shows Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket at Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, England.   (UK Space Agency via AP)

Virgin Orbit's temporary pause on operations after a failed launch earlier this year has become a permanent move for almost all of the company's workers. CEO Dan Hart told employees in an all-hands call Thursday that operations at the satellite launch firm are ending for the "foreseeable future" and almost 90% of employees across all departments are being laid off. CNBC reports that Hart choked up as he told workers the firm had been unable to secure a funding lifeline. "We have no choice but to implement immediate, dramatic, and extremely painful changes," he said.

Hart said the company would provide a severance package for every departing employee—and a "direct pipeline" will be set up for opportunities at sister firm Virgin Galactic. According to a securities filing, 675 workers will be laid off, leaving around 100 employees. Company founder and majority owner Richard Branson has promised to inject $11 million to cover most of the cost of severance payments, the Guardian reports. The company's share price slumped to 34 cents Thursday, down from more than $7 a year ago. Branson has thrown more than $55 million to Virgin Orbit through the Virgin Group conglomerate in recent months, but he appears to be done funding it, TechCrunch reports. (More Virgin Orbit stories.)

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