Virgin Orbit, the rocket company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, has filed for bankruptcy in the United States.
The California-based company said in a statement Monday that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, meaning that it can continue doing business while it restructures its debts.
“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,” Dan Hart, chief executive of Virgin Orbit, said in the statement posted on its website.
Hart said he believed that the company’s “cutting-edge launch technology” would have “wide appeal to buyers as we continue in the process to sell the company.”
Virgin Investments, one of Virgin Orbit’s sister companies, will inject $31.6 million into the satellite launcher to help it stay afloat while the business searches for a new owner.
The announcement comes just days after Virgin Orbit said it would lay off about 85% of its workforce to reduce expenses since it could not secure additional funding.
The company was founded in 2017 to make small rockets, called LauncherOne, that can deliver lightweight satellites to orbit quickly and cheaply. The rockets take off from modified Boeing 747 planes.
It is one of several companies, including Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, that has attempted to commercialize satellite launching.
Virgin Orbit ran into trouble in January when one of its rockets failed to make it to orbit because its engine overheated. It was the company’s first attempt to launch a satellite from UK soil. It had completed four previous successful launches from California.