Virgin Orbit, a bankrupt rocket company spun off from Virgin Galactic, is shutting down after selling its facility leases and equipment to aerospace companies in an auction. CNBC reports: Spun out of Virgin Galactic in 2017 by founder Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Orbit reached rarefied air by flying multiple missions. But difficulty raising funds, and slow execution, brought the once multibillion-dollar company to bankruptcy and ultimately shut down. Monday’s auction bids amount to about $36 million in total. Virgin Orbit’s six or so rockets that were in various stages of manufacturing assembly, and its intellectual property, have yet to be sold, a Virgin Orbit spokesperson confirmed.
Rocket Lab successfully bid $16.1 million for the company’s headquarters in Long Beach, California, which is about 140,000 square feet, the spokesperson said. Although founded in New Zealand, Rocket Lab was already a neighbor of Virgin Orbit, with a headquarters and facilities in the Long Beach area. Additionally, Rocket Lab’s purchase includes assets such as 3D-printers and a specialty tank welding machine. In a press release, Rocket Lab said the Virgin Orbit assets will improve its production, manufacturing, and test capabilities, especially in developing its larger Neutron rocket.
Stratolaunch was awarded its $17 million “stalking horse” bid for Virgin Orbit’s 747 jet. A Stratolaunch spokesperson, in a statement to CNBC, said the company “continually evaluates ways to increase our capacity to meet the imperative for testing hypersonic technologies via leap-ahead flight demonstrations.” “We will share more news about the sale as it becomes available,” Stratolaunch noted. Previously in the bankruptcy process, Virgin Orbit agreed to the terms of Stratolaunch’s bid, which was to purchase the 747 jet “Cosmic Girl” and other aircraft assets. Stratolaunch has been developing its own airborne system, the world’s largest airplane called “Roc,” as a platform for hypersonic flight testing.
Launcher, a subsidiary of Vast Space, is purchasing the company’s facility in Mojave, California — as well as some machinery, equipment and inventory — for $2.7 million. Virgin Orbit’s Mojave leases include infrastructure such as rocket engine test stands and an aircraft hangar. A liquidation company, Inliper, is purchasing the company’s office equipment for $650,000.