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Virgin Orbit Sells Assets To RocketLab, Stratolaunch and Vast Launcher

Virgin Orbit has sold its assets and equipment to a trio of aerospace companies through an auction, as confirmed by a court filing released on Tuesday.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Tue May 23 2023Written by Zac Aubert

Virgin Orbit has sold its assets and equipment to a trio of aerospace companies through an auction, as confirmed by a court filing released on Tuesday.

The combined bids for the assets amount to approximately $36 million, providing some financial relief for the struggling company.

Rocket Lab, a leading small satellite launch provider, emerged as the successful bidder for Virgin Orbit's "machinery & equipment and lease" with a bid of $16.1 million. This acquisition will enable Rocket Lab to bolster its existing infrastructure and expand its capabilities in the rocket launch sector.

Stratolaunch, the aerospace company founded by the late Paul Allen, secured its position by making a "stalking horse" bid of $17 million for Virgin Orbit's prized possession: the Boeing 747 jet known as "Cosmic Girl." This unique aircraft is specially modified to carry Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rockets aloft for air launches. Stratolaunch's acquisition of this iconic jet will allow them to explore new avenues in the air launch industry.

Another participant in the auction was Launcher, a subsidiary of Vast Space, which successfully bid $2.7 million to purchase Virgin Orbit's facility located in Mojave, California. This deal also includes the acquisition of certain machinery, equipment, and inventory associated with Virgin Orbit's operations. Launcher aims to leverage these assets to strengthen its presence in the aerospace industry and further its own ambitions.

The agreement between Virgin Orbit and Stratolaunch regarding the sale of the 747 jet was reached during the earlier stages of the bankruptcy process. This agreement solidified Stratolaunch's position as the primary bidder for the aircraft, providing clarity and direction amidst the uncertain financial circumstances faced by Virgin Orbit.

Virgin Orbit filed for bankruptcy protection on April 4 after unsuccessful attempts to secure additional funding and a subsequent decision to lay off a significant portion of its workforce. The sale of its assets represents a crucial step in the company's restructuring efforts, allowing for the potential revitalization of its operations under the ownership of established aerospace players.

While the sale of assets and equipment is a significant development for Virgin Orbit, the company still faces challenges ahead as it navigates through bankruptcy proceedings. The funds generated from the auction will help address some of the outstanding financial obligations and potentially pave the way for the company's resurgence in the highly competitive commercial space industry.

This story is developing. Stay tuned for updates.