Prior to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy OneWeb, ordered up a series of 39 satellite launches in May 2015 from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit aircraft-based rocket launch system.
The Branson-backed business also invested in OneWeb and in return received launch options for an additional 100 aircraft-based rocket launches. However, OneWeb cancelled all the launches bar for four and those did not happen because of OneWeb’s entry into bankruptcy in March this year.
The cancellations were covered by the launch contract which triggered a $70 million cancellation penalty. Part was paid but $46.3 million remains outstanding which has prompted this legal action.
OneWeb claims the Virgin launchers at $6 million per flight are too expensive, but perhaps cheekily failed to formally notify Virgin of its precarious position and Virgin saying – in a September 10th filing with the Bankruptcy Court – that Virgin was “deprived of that opportunity to be heard” by the Court.
OneWeb, in an earlier filing with the Court stated that nothing was owed to Virgin.
Virgin argues that it reserves all rights to introduce evidence and wants any buyer of OneWeb’s assets to provide assurances – and interest payments – on OneWeb’s obligations.