Virgin Orbit to Go Public at Enormous Valuation, Persevering with Richard Branson’s SPAC Spree

The Virgin Orbit Launcher One rocket in its hanger at Newquay Airport on August 10, 2021 in Newquay, England. Hugh R Hastings/Getty Photos

Virgin Orbit, a satellite tv for pc launch startup spun off from Richard Branson’s area tourism firm Virgin Galactic, introduced Monday that it’s getting ready to go public by a reverse merger with the special-purpose acquisition agency (SPAC) NextGen Acquisition II that can worth the mixed firm at $3.2 billion.

The goal valuation is greater than thrice what Virgin Orbit was price on the finish of 2020 and twice what Virgin Galactic was valued at when it went public (additionally by a SPAC merger) in late 2019.

Virgin Orbit will commerce on Nasdaq below the ticker “NGCA.” Shares will convert to “VORB” when the transaction is full later this yr.

Talks of the SPAC deal was first reported in June. The reverse merger is anticipated to boost $483 million for Virgin Orbit, together with $100 million in PIPE (non-public funding in public fairness) funding from buyers equivalent to Boeing and the non-public fairness agency AE Industrial Companions.

Boeing additionally performs an necessary position in Virgin Orbit’s distinctive “air-launch” system, which carries satellites into the sky by attaching a booster beneath a modified Boeing 747 plane. After reaching a sure altitude, the 747 will launch the booster, which is able to then hearth up its personal engine and climb as much as orbit.

Virgin Orbit efficiently reached orbit with this technique, referred to as LauncherOne, in a check flight in January. This method supplies extra flexibility than the business normal vertical-launch rockets, the corporate stated.

LauncherOne is designed to ship small satellites that weigh as much as 500 kilograms (1,100 kilos) into area. Demand for launching satellites on this vary is booming in recent times as a crop of business satellite tv for pc makers enter the business. These satellites normally don’t make a full payload on a regular-sized rocket, making launch alternatives scarce and costly.

Full-size rocket makers, notably SpaceX, are eyeing the small satellite tv for pc market as effectively with choices equivalent to satellite tv for pc “rideshare” applications that permit exterior shoppers to fly alongside on these corporations’ common missions.

Based in 2017, Virgin Orbit is owned by Branson’s multinational conglomerate Virgin Group, with a minority stake from Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala. Collectively, they’ve invested about $1 billion within the firm. The SPAC merger represents a 300 % return on their investments.

Virgin Orbit is anticipated to incur a lack of $156 million this yr, in keeping with CNBC, however goals to develop income quickly within the coming years and be worthwhile by 2024. The corporate has $300 million in lively contracts, with one other $2.3 billion in “recognized gross sales alternatives at the moment being pursued,” CEO Dan Hart advised CNBC.