Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy

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Virgin Orbit, the satellite-launching company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, has filed for bankruptcy.

The California-based company filed for Chapter 11 Monday, according to a press release. Virgin Orbit is trying to sell the company that started in 2017 to complement Mr. Branson’s space travel brand, Virgin Galactic.

“While we have taken great efforts to address our financial position and secure additional financing, we ultimately must do what is best for the business,” CEO Dan Hart said in the release. “We believe that the cutting-edge launch technology that this team has created will have wide appeal to buyers as we continue in the process to sell the company.”

Chapter 11 bankruptcy lets a business operate while it restructures its debts. Another Virgin enterprise, Virgin Investments, committed over $31 million to Virgin Orbit so the company won’t go under before a sale is completed.

Virgin Orbit laid off roughly 675 employees — or 85% of its staff — Monday in order to “reduce expenses in light of the company’s inability to secure meaningful funding,” according to documents obtained by CNN.

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