Virgin Orbit laid off around 350 employees, or 85% of its workforce, as part of a drastic cost-cutting measure. The company said that it was unable to secure additional funding to keep its operations afloat, forcing it to take this difficult step.
The decision to lay off such a large number of employees is a significant blow to the company, which has already struggled to establish itself in the highly competitive space industry. Virgin Orbit is known for its innovative approach to launching small satellites into space using a modified Boeing 747 aircraft, but it has faced a number of setbacks and delays in recent years.
In a statement, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said that the company had made “significant progress” in developing its technology and launching satellites, but that it needed to make “tough decisions” to reduce costs and improve its chances of success in the long run.
“We are deeply saddened to have to say goodbye to so many talented and dedicated colleagues,” Hart said. “We remain committed to our mission of democratizing access to space and we will continue to work tirelessly to achieve it.”
The company said that it will continue to operate with a smaller workforce and focus on its core technology and capabilities, including its LauncherOne rocket system. It will also seek new partnerships and collaborations to support its efforts to bring more small satellites into orbit.
The news of the layoffs comes just months after Virgin Orbit successfully launched its first commercial mission, sending a series of small satellites into space for the US Department of Defense. However, the company has faced intense competition from other players in the industry, including SpaceX and Blue Origin, both of which are backed by billionaires with deep pockets.