Firefly Aerospace buys the final scraps of doomed Virgin Orbit

The purchase includes engines and other components from Virgin’s LauncherOne vehicles.

DeeCee Carter/MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx

The last remnants of Virgin Orbit have been offloaded. Firefly Aerospace has agreed to buy the defunct satellite-launch company’s remaining assets for $3.8 million. Firefly’s purchase included the leftovers from a May auction that cleaned out most of the company’s possessions, netting $36 million in Virgin Orbit’s bankruptcy proceedings. Firefly’s purchase was reported in June 15th filings in a Delaware bankruptcy court (via SpaceNews).

Firefly Aerospace’s purchased assets include inventory at two of Virgin Orbit’s former Long Beach, CA, production facilities. Among them are engines and other components for Virgin’s LauncherOne vehicles and two additional engines stored at a Mojave, CA, test site. At last month’s auction, Virgin Orbit said it “deemed it in the best interests of the Debtors’ estates” to hang onto the remaining assets for the time being. Negotiations reportedly continued afterward, leading to this week’s sale to Firefly.

Once-promising Virgin Orbit, a spinoff of Virgin Galactic specializing in the air-launching of satellite rockets from a modified Boeing 747, saw its stock nosedive in the months leading up to its downfall. Only four of the company’s six flights between 2020 and 2023 were successful, and its most recent attempt earlier this year reportedly failed because of a dislodged $100 fuel filter. The company began an “operational pause” in March as a last-gasp attempt to find new investors before filing for bankruptcy protection and finally throwing in the towel a couple of weeks later.

Meanwhile, Firefly Aerospace, based in Cedar Park, TX, is developing a launch vehicle called Firefly Alpha. The two-stage, liquid-fueled rocket is designed to be launched from various sites. Its first attempt failed in 2021, but the rocket had a partially successful orbital launch the following year. The company expects to launch a third time for the US Space Force.