Failed Virgin Orbit Program Sold For Less Than Stranger Things’ Budget

A photo of the Virgin Orbit logo on a building.
A photo of the Virgin Orbit logo on a building.

For sale: Space launch program, one careful owner.

If you’re a rich person in the market for a new toy to play with, there are a lot of great options out there. You could buy Michael Schumacher’s race-winning Ferrari F1 car, a mega yacht seized from a Russian oligarch or even a retired Boeing 747 to do with as you please. But if you’re looking for a real investment, you might be tempted by the sale of a whole space rocket launch program.

If you are, then I’ve got good news for you as Virgin Orbit is up for sale after its collapse earlier this year.

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To fill you in on the company, it was founded by Virgin boss Richard Branson with the aim of launching rockets and satellites into space. It isn’t the same as Virgin Galactic, which will continue ferrying rich people into orbit. Virgin Orbit was meant to get things off the ground earlier this year with the launch of a satellite from its base in the UK, but after the launch attempt failed, the troubles really started.

A photo of the modified Boeing 747 operated by Virgin Galactic.
A photo of the modified Boeing 747 operated by Virgin Galactic.

Cosmic Girl.

After the failed launch, Virgin Orbit announced it was ceasing operations and laying off nearly its entire workforce. Branson, the company’s majority owner, said he was unwilling to pump more cash into the venture, and it went in search of new investors. Ultimately, it failed to find anyone and soon went into administration.

Now, Axios reports that the company’s assets are being sold off to the highest bidder for $36 million. That might sound like a lot, but just three years ago the company was valued at $3.7 billion. It’s a figure that looks like even more of a bargain when you learn that Netflix spent roughly the same amount on each episode of the fourth season of Stranger Things. So, should the streaming giant green light a fifth season, or should it try its hand at space exploration?

Whatever the bosses at Netflix decide, here’s what is up for grabs at the Virgin Orbit garage sale. Axios reports:

“Virgin Orbit will sell its Long Beach, California-based headquarters and some equipment for $16.1 million to Rocket Lab, another space company that went public via SPAC.

“The company’s 747 jet, named ‘Cosmic Girl,’ and other aircraft assets will go to Cerberus portfolio company Stratolaunch for $17 million.

“Its Mojave, California-based facility goes to a subsidiary of launch company Vast for $2.7 million.”

A photo of Virgin orbit's Boeing 747 aircraft.
A photo of Virgin orbit's Boeing 747 aircraft.

Just a lonely 747 dreaming of loftier things.

Originally, Virgin Orbit planned to use its 747 to launch low-Earth orbit satellites into the atmosphere. However, just four of the six attempted flights proved to be successful. Now, it will be used by Stratolaucnh, which is developing its own mid-air launching technology.

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