Virgin Orbit enters into ‘stalking horse’ agreement with Stratolaunch 

Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit assets including the “Cosmic Girl” carrier aircraft could soon have a new home after Richard Branson’s satellite launch company announced it had entered into a “stalking horse” agreement with Stratolaunch.  

The satellite launch company, which filed for bankruptcy on April 3, 2023, confirmed the initial bid offer for its aircraft is $17 million, according to court documents seen by Reuters. 

The Virgin Group began the sale of its bankrupt launch provider on May 1, 2023, following a voluntary proceeding under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.  

Virgin Orbit has struggled to recover since the failed first UK satellite launch of its customized Boeing 747-400, “Cosmic Girl”, and, as of September 30, 2022, is looking to cover a total debt of $153.5 million.  

A stalking horse agreement is an initial bid on the assets of a bankrupt company which must be exceeded by other interested parties and prevents low bids. 

The deal could help Virgin Orbit maximize the value of its assets. Other parties can come forward with bids before May 19, 2023, if their offer is higher than the baseline set. If no competing bids are submitted before the deadline, Virgin Orbit will move ahead with hypersonic aerospace company Stratolaunch. 

While the main point of interest for Stratolaunch is aircraft assets, Virgin Orbit stated that the bankruptcy marketing process has also generated considerable interest in its other assets. A hearing regarding the sale of the airline has been scheduled for May 24, 2023, in bankruptcy court. 

Prior to bankruptcy, the company had plans to begin commercial space flights at the Spaceport in Cornwall, the United Kingdom, by June 2023, alongside successfully launching 33 satellites into space since it was formed in 2017.  

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