Virgin Orbit plans to move back deadline for bidders - source

FILE PHOTO: Virgin Orbit facility is seen, in Long Beach

By Joey Roulette

(Reuters) - Satellite launch company Virgin Orbit is planning to move back the deadline for prospective bidders to buy its assets by a handful of days, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The development was first reported by Sky News.

Virgin Orbit, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April after the company struggled to secure long-term funding following a failed satellite launch in January.

The source said the delayed process was "about ironing out some details and giving more time to get deals done".

Virgin Orbit went public two years ago at a valuation of roughly $3 billion, but the January mishap left the company scrambling for new funding and forced it to halt operations.

U.S. rocket startups have faced a tight funding environment, exacerbated by the Virgin Orbit bankruptcy. Venture investment in space startups has dropped 50% year-over-year in 2022, according to VC firm Space Capital.

Virgin Orbit, which was spun off from space tourism firm Virgin Galactic in 2017, sends satellites into orbit using rockets launched from a modified Boeing 747 plane.

The Long Beach, California-based company laid off roughly 85% of its 750 employees. Virgin Orbit listed assets of about $243 million and total debt at $153.5 million as of Sept. 30.

(Reporting By Joey Roulette; Editing by David Gaffen and Shounak Dasgupta)