Virgin Orbit sadly failed to deliver commercial space travel

  • Virgin Orbit attempted six launches, four of which were successful
  • In 2021, Virgin Orbit went public, and it was valued at $3.7 billion
  • In 2023, it went bankrupt

Published on Jun 21, 2024 at 7:34 PM (UTC+4)
by Alessandro Renesis

Last updated on Jun 22, 2024 at 5:14 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Virgin is a billionaire-run company that wanted to take the mega-rich into orbit – but Virgin Orbit wanted to take that quest commercial.

But a while back, Virgin tried to branch out into the commercial space sector with Virgin Orbit.

It didn’t go well, and Virgin Orbit never came close to rivaling SpaceX.

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The company remained operational for about six years, during which time it managed to successfully complete four launches, with two failures.

In order to complete these launches, it even acquired a modified Boeing 747-400, nicknamed ‘Cosmic Girl’, which was used to launch the rocket.

At one point, in 2021, the company even went public with a Special Acquisition Purpose Company (SPAC) merger.

At its peak, it was valued at $3.7 billion, but when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2023, its remaining assets were sold for ‘just’ $36 million.

Virgin Orbit wanted to rival SpaceX

In a way, Virgin wanted to compete in the same domain as Blue Origin and SpaceX.

After all, just like Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos) and SpaceX (Elon Musk), Virgin is a private company owned by an eccentric billionaire, Richard Branson.

Virgin has several subsidiaries.

With Virgin Galactic, for example, the idea is to send billionaires into space, for fun.

But Virgin Orbit was different, the goal was to deliver payload to Earth’s low orbit.

In other words, the goal was to take space travel one step further, with missions that could benefit the ‘space race’, rather than just providing Instagram-friendly moments to billionaires

What went wrong?

In short, after flying four tourists to space, the company ran out of money.

Went the company went public with a SPAC, Virgin said it had about $300 million in active contracts and expected its rocket launch business to grow to about 18 launches by the end of 2023.

But that never happened.

LauncherOne, the main rocket Virgin Orbit used, failed to orbit in January 2023, which ended up the first and only launch attempt that year.

Just a few months later, the aerospace company ceased operations.

# Tags - Aircraft, Space


Alessandro Renesis

Experienced content creator with a strong focus on cars and watches. Alessandro penned the first-ever post on the Supercar Blondie website and covers cars, watches, yachts, real estate and crypto. Former DriveTribe writer, fixed gear bike owner, obsessed with ducks for some reason.