Virgim Orbit bankrupt: the rocket bankruptcy thread

Started by Legend, Aug 10, 2019, 05:09 AM

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Vector looked cool, but this might be the house of cards collapsing. Smallsat launchers jumped out as the next big thing yet Rocket Lab might be the only healthy one.

Rocket Lab currently flying and ok.

Stratolaunch closed.
Vector probably closed.
Virgin Orbit iffy.
Firefly Aerospace maybe ok.


Another company gone  :'(

Masten Space Systems files for bankruptcy - SpaceNews

Astra is also months away from bankruptcy. They're trying a hail Mary and have abandoned their current rocket.

Bothe Firefly and Relativity should have launches in the coming months. Firefly had an engine failure last time and is hoping to reach orbit on their second launch. Relativity has a lot of money and a lot of ambition but they have yet to do anything. They seem to be 90% hype atm.


in this economy loads of bankruptcies will occur. 

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in this economy loads of bankruptcies will occur.
Yup. Combine that with starship coming online and 2023/2024 will be a very bloody year for smallsat launchers. The industry loves redundancy though so it's hard to predict where the cutoff is. Here's a ranked list imo of the major players.

Rocket lab is doing great: List of Electron launches - Wikipedia

Virgin Orbit seems solid, but they are still pretty new: LauncherOne - Wikipedia

Relativity might be more bark than bite but they've convinced a lot of groups to sign launch contracts: Terran 1 - Wikipedia

Firefly had issues with Ukraine ownership yet still has a few launch contracts: Firefly Alpha - Wikipedia

ABL is virtually unknown but they have hardware ready for their first launch: ABL Space Systems - Wikipedia

Astra is actively dying but if they can stop blowing up rockets, they have a somewhat healthy manifest: List of Astra rocket launches - Wikipedia



Virgin Orbit: Richard Branson's rocket firm files for bankruptcy - BBC News

I really expected them to do better than most just because they were already launching, but it really shows how much damage a failed launch can do.


Virgin Orbit is fully dead. Was a weird moment a while ago where it looked like they were going to try and survive their bankruptcy but nope.

So which company is next?

Firefly seems good. They have a contract selling engines to Astra and have partnered with Northrop Grumman. Antares's first stage is pretty much dead thanks to the Russian war so Firefly was contracted to replace it.

Astra is essentially a dead company. They are moving to a bigger rocket but even if that goes perfectly I doubt they'll find enough customers to stay in business. SpaceX has been wildly successful with their Transporter missions (small satellites launched at a fixed price on a fixed schedule) and every small launcher has been feeling the pressure.

Relativity failed their maiden launch but quickly abandoned the rocket and 3D printing. They're now focused exclusively on building a Falcon 9 competitor. Doubt they'll have much success but they have a lot of funding. They'll be fine for a few years.

ABL is probably going to pivot just like Relativity. They failed their maiden launch and have a second attempt coming up. If it fails, I bet they cancel the rocket and move to a bigger one. The common trend here is that small launch is dead.

Vector is trying to make a comeback but come on, they're dead.

Rocketlab unlike the others is a very established company. They just bought Virgin Orbit's headquarters and have had 33 successful Electron launches. They've also diversified into manufacturing satelite components so they're not at any risk of going bankrupt. Still though, the launch side of their business might have some struggles ahead. Electron has a limited future and while Neutron was supposed to be a Falcon 9 killer, it's looking pretty equivalent. It will struggle against starship.

Stoke is a new player that has some pretty cool concepts. They'll probably fail but they're working on a fully reusable small rocket.

Meanwhile United Launch Alliance is rumored to be for sale. Hopefully Lockheed buys them so they stay in Colorado.


Astra conducts layoffs, raises debt, shifts focus to survive

Lame. Doubt they have a future either way but it'd be cool to see them try at least one more rocket launch.

And how has this company not been kicked off NASDAQ yet? Their stock has been under a dollar for a year.