Virgin Orbit shares plummet after UK launch failure

Cosmic Girl, a Virgin Boeing 747-400 aircraft, is launched by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket ahead of tonight’s first UK launch at Spaceport Cornwall at Newquay Airport, Newquay, UK, 9 January 2023. It sits on a wing-mounted tarmac.

Henry Nichols | Reuters

Virgin Orbit Shares fell in Monday night trading after the company confirmed its first launch from the UK did not reach orbit.

Virgin Orbit’s stock is down 30% from its closing price of $1.93 per share in after-hours trading.

The company uses modified 747 jets to launch satellites into space by dropping rockets from under the aircraft’s wings while in flight. This is a method called air launch.

A Virgin Orbit webcast shows the LauncherOne rocket has been released and started its engines, with the company saying in a tweet that the rocket has “succeeded in Earth orbit.” However, about 30 minutes later, the company announced that there was an “anomaly” in the launch and that the nine satellites on board would not reach orbit.

Virgin Orbit is reviewing launch data to determine the cause of the failure and admits it deleted a tweet about reaching orbit. The 747 Jet and its crew returned safely and landed at Cornwall Spaceport in South West England.

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Monday’s mission was Virgin Orbit’s sixth to date and second launch failure.

The company has only two launches in 2022, short of Virgin Orbit’s forecast of four to six missions announced early last year. At the end of the third quarter, Virgin Orbit had $71.2 million in cash on hand.and raised an additional $25 million from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, the existing major shareholder, is in the middle of the fourth quarter. Virgin Orbit shares plummet after UK launch failure

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