Satellite launch company Virgin Orbit is starting an "operational pause" and furloughing most employees except for a skeleton crew, CNBC has reported. The company is reportedly seeking new investors to relieve financial pressure and plans to give "an update on go-forward operations in the coming weeks," a spokesperson said in a statement.
Companies like SpaceX launch heavy rockets from the ground to get satellite payloads in orbit. However, Virgin Orbit carries smaller rockets to a height of about 35,000 feet on the wing of a Boeing 747, reducing fuel required. Earlier this year, it attempted to launch nine satellites into low-Earth orbit from its UK base. Unfortunately, the mission failed — reportedly due to a dislodged fuel filter.
That setback came on top of existing financial problems, as the company has seen its stock drop precipitously from its debut in December of 2021. It reported a loss of $49.2 million in its last fiscal quarter, as it burned money with taking in any revenue.
Despite those issues, Virgin Orbit seemed to be making progress toward its next launch. "Our investigation is nearly complete and our next production rocket with the needed modification incorporated is in final stages of integration and test," a spokesperson said last month.