An updated image of Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One. Virgin Orbit said it would bring back a small group of workers on Thursday after laying off all staff earlier this month. File Photo courtesy of Greg Robinson/Virgin Orbit
March 22 (UPI) — Virgin Orbit, Richard Branson’s satellite launch service, is expected to return to operations Thursday with a small staff after suspending operations last week and placing its employees on unpaid leave.
In filing On Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Virgin Orbit Holdings said it would begin a “gradual reopening of operations” that would include work on the next launch.
“Our first step will begin on Thursday this week as we plan to bring back part of our team to focus on critical areas of our next mission,” said CEO Dan Hart. “We look forward to returning to our mission and returning to orbit.
However, Hart added that the company will extend its unpaid leave and continue to suspend most of its 750 employees “until at least Monday,” according to an employee email. reports CNBC.
Hart said there is still a need to “save money” as the company continues to work to move forward.
“We have made significant progress this week, but there is still a lot to be done,” Hart wrote.
The company faltered after failing to deliver the first-ever satellite launched from British soil into orbit on January 9th.
The failed launch from Newquay Airport-based Cornwall has dashed hopes that the country could become a global competitor in the lucrative satellite launch industry currently dominated by US private space companies.
“Any viable path for our operations will require us to have a successful launch,” Hart said.
Return turned out to be good news for its stock: Shares of Virgin Orbit jumped 155% in premarket trading on Wednesday. Shares have lost 76% in 2023, closing at 44 cents on Tuesday.