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Virgin Orbit wraps launcher failure investigation

April 24, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Virgin Orbit says it has completed its investigation into the problems of its failed January 9th launch from Spaceport Cornwall. The company said it return to flight later this year. Virgin Orbit is currently progressing through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring.

Virgin Orbit says the rocket’s failure was caused by a fuel filter that had become dislodged within the propulsion system and which had moved into the rockets main engines.

The rocket launch company said it had carried out numerous tests at its Mojave Air and Space Port base and which had recreated the conditions of the failure.

“All potentially credible scenarios were investigated. The modified design, that has now been verified through test, has been incorporated into the company’s next rocket which is planned for flight from Mojave Air and Space Port later this year,” the company stated.

Subject to the bankruptcy process, Virgin Orbit has told the Securities & Exchange Commission that it would hire back more staff and take the overall employee numbers to 275.

One element that has emerged is that the ‘Debtor in Possession’ cash loaned to Virgin Orbit from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Investments Ltd comes with certain strings attached and a requirement under a “termination and de-brand agreement” that the restructured business will no longer use the ‘Virgin’ name and must phase out logos and other trademarks.

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