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Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit that specializes in small satellite launches is looking for a fresh round of funding that could raise the company valuations to $1 billion.
On Sunday, October 12, the Wall Street Journal reported that Richard Branson‘s small satellite launch business Virgin Orbit is looking to raise around $200 million in fresh funding. If Virgin Orbit can pull this off, it can push the company’s valuations to $1 billion, said people familiar with the matter.
This fundraising comes at a time when Branson has been struggling to keep its Virgin Airlines alive amid the coronavirus pandemic. Also, the commercial space industry is under severe pressure. Virgin Orbit directly competes in this segment with other private players like SpaceX and Blue Origin.
In August 2020, Virgin Orbit hired Perella Weinberg Partners LP and LionTree Advisors LLC to help with this potential transaction. These banks are already helping the company raise anywhere between $150 million to $200 million by the end of 2020. Besides, the Journal also mentioned that this fundraising will help the company to absorb capital expenditure as well as launches.
Using these funds, Virgin Orbit can also launch payloads just like the upcoming National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) mission. This mission aims to put nearly 10 small satellites in the orbit.
Fine Tuning Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One Vehicle Design
As said, Virgin Orbit and other companies of its size are working to launch smaller and lighter payloads in space. Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One is quite similar in specification to SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rockets. But unlike the Falcon 1, the Launcher One doesn’t use its engine for takeoff.
Rather, it is launched using a modified Boeing 747 aircraft dubbed Cosmic girl. With the recent collaboration with NASA, the 10 small websites will be Launcher One’s first payload launch. Virgin Orbit has also got a considerable time-frame to execute this project. As mentioned by WCC FTech,
“Once Virgin Orbit establishes a launch cadence with the LauncherOne, it will be able to launch the miniaturized small satellites that serve a variety of functions. These range from imaging to internet communications – with the latter market also experienced renewed competition following SpaceX’s regular Starlink launches”.
Earlier in August 2020, SpaceX pulled off its largest funding round to date. This was nearly twice the amount of funds that SpaceX raised back in 2015. During the funding round, SpaceX reportedly sold $2 billion worth of equity.
Virgin Orbit’s sister-concern Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) had a good run on Wall Street this year. Virgin Galactic British aerospace giant Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC to develop a Mach 3 high-speed supersonic travel aircraft. The company is likely to start its services by next year 2021.