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Virgin Orbit laying off 85 percent of staff

In this undated photo provided by Virgin Orbit on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, Virgin Atlantic Cosmic Girl, a repurposed Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 aircraft that will carry a rocket, is parked at Spaceport Cornwall, at Cornwall Airport in Newquay, England. Engineers are making final preparations for the first satellite launch from the U.K. later Monday, when a repurposed passenger plane is expected to release a Virgin Orbit rocket carrying several small satellites into space. (Virgin Orbit via AP)

Virgin Orbit, the new satellite venture from entrepreneur Richard Branson, announced it will lay off 85 percent of its staff in the coming weeks due to financial struggles.

About 675 employees will lose their jobs on Monday, according to a public filing released Thursday. The layoffs come after nearly the entire workforce was placed on furlough earlier this month as the company worked to secure additional funding.

Virgin Orbit was founded in 2017 as a spinoff from Virgin Galactic, which hopes to fly supersonic planes to the edge of space for tourists. Virgin Orbit attempts to use similar technology to launch satellites using an air-launched rocket system.

The company’s LauncherOne system first achieved orbit in 2021, earlier than most competitors in the fierce satellite startup space.

Virgin Obit went public via a merger company, called a SPAC, in late 2021. It was losing $50 million per quarter, according to its most recent quarterly filing.

The stock price plummeted with the news and has lost about half of its value since Wednesday. The stock, which entered the market at about $10 per share in 2021, now trades for about 20 cents per share as of Friday.

Tags layoffs Richard Branson

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