New Chairman Takes Charge as India Space Agency Struggles to Launch Satellites and Begin Human Spaceflight

New ISRO Chairman Shri. S. Somanath (left) takes over from K. Sivan. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new chairman has taken over the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at a crucial time as the space agency continues to struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of becoming only the fourth nation capable of launching astronauts into orbit.

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Virgin Orbit Mission Brings Air Launch Closer to UK Operations

LauncherOne ignites on its way to space. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

Satellite launch from Spaceport Cornwall is a step closer following Virgin Orbit’s successful ‘Above the Clouds’ mission in the US.

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency welcomes the news that Virgin Orbit has successfully completed its third mission from California on Thursday 13 January, launching several satellites into orbit from beneath the wing of a 747.

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Virgin Orbit Launches 7 Payloads into Orbit

Cosmic Girl after takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA, January 13, 2022 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB), the responsive launch and space solutions company, confirmed it successfully deployed into orbit all 7 customer satellites onboard its LauncherOne rocket during today’s Above the Clouds mission.

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Virgin Orbit Delays Launch to Thursday

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

Virgin Orbit has postponed a satellite launch scheduled for Wednesday by 24 hours so engineers could take “a little extra time to thoroughly validate the system and to check our sensor readings.

“We are now targeting Thursday, Jan 13 as our first available launch opportunity, with potential takeoff between ~1pm & 3:30pm Pacific. We have additional windows available in the coming days, if needed,” the company tweeted.

“The launch system, the team, and our customers’ satellites remain in excellent shape as we prepare for the start of our latest mission. Set your alarms and be sure to tune into our mission livestream on Thursday, which kicks off at 12:30pm PT/20:30 GMT,” Virgin Orbit added.

LauncherOne will place seven satellites into orbit after being dropped from its Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft off the coast of California. The flight will originate from the Mojave Air and Space Port.

Virgin Orbit to Launch Satellites From California on Wednesday

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will attempt to make it three in a row by launching a group of commercial and government satellites off the California coast on Wednesday afternoon.

Virgin Orbit’s Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl carrier plane is scheduled to take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. PST (21:00–23:30 GMT). The aircraft will drop the LauncherOne booster over the Pacific Ocean near the Channel Islands approximately one hour after takeoff.

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Virgin Orbit Stock Sinks in NASDAQ Debut

Credit: Google Finance

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Orbit’s debut on the NASDAQ stock exchange wasn’t exactly stellar.

The stock opened at $9.18 when trading began on Thursday, Dec. 30. It reached a low of $8.04 when trading ended the following day befrore rising to $8.30 in after-hours trading.

Richard Branson’s launch company went public after merging with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that was already traded on NASDAQ. The merger allowed Virgin Orbit to go public on the exchange under its own name.

NextGen stock was trading at $9.68 when the merger deal was announced on Aug. 23.

A SPAC is a “blank check company” that is essentially an investment vehicle that is traded on the stock exchange. SPACs typically have two years to find a private company with which to merge and take public. If they don’t, then investors can received their money back. Investors also have the option to sell their shares back to the company if they don’t like the deal, which is what happened with the NextGen-Virgin Orbit merger.

As a result, Virgin Orbit will received only $228 million of the $483 million in growth capital it had expected when the deal was announced in August. The Virgin Group and other investors had to put more money into the merger to meet the $100 million cash requirement for the deal.

Virgin Orbit Begins Trading on NASDAQ After Merger with NextGen Acquisition Closes

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

LONG BEACH, Calif. & BOCA RATON, Fla. (NextGen Acquisition/Virgin Orbit PR) — NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (NASDAQ: NGCA) (“NextGen”) today announced the closing of its business combination with Vieco USA, Inc., the parent company of Virgin Orbit (“Virgin Orbit” or the “Company”).

As of the closing of the transaction, which was approved by NextGen stockholders on December 28, 2021, NextGen has changed its name to “Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc.” Virgin Orbit’s common stock and warrants are expected to begin to trade on the NASDAQ Stock Market (“NASDAQ”) on December 30, 2021, under the ticker symbols “VORB” and “VORBW”, respectively.

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Merger Leaves Virgin Orbit with Less Than Half of Funding Originally Planned

Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a clear sign of investor skepticism, Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will receive only about $228 million of the $483 million in growth capital it expected after merging with the NextGen Acquisition II special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

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Building Towards Third Commercial Launch, Virgin Orbit Completes Final Launch Rehearsal

Virgin Orbit team completing final technical rehearsal of LauncherOne R5 for January flight. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Virgin Orbit PR) — Yesterday, Virgin Orbit, which has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA), completed a full wet dress rehearsal of its air-launched LauncherOne satellite delivery service, taking the integrated system through a full run of procedures to verify the health of the system and the preparedness of the team.

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Virgin Orbit and Arqit Expand Launch Agreements Ahead of Merger Vote

Virgin Orbit and Arqit Quantum announce an extension to their collaboration that will accelerate space-based encryption services to private, defense, and intelligence customers globally.

  • Arqit has contracted exclusively with Virgin Orbit for Arqit’s launch needs for up to 5 launches from Spaceport Cornwall beginning in 2023.
  • Virgin Orbit has acquired a quantum cloud encryption license from Arqit to provide encryption protection for its launch and space solutions businesses.
  • The two companies have previously announced a $5 million investment from Virgin Orbit into Arqit’s SPAC.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA), has signed a new launch contract covering two dedicated launches for Arqit Quantum, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARQQ), a global leader in quantum encryption technology, plus additional commitments. The two Arqit satellites delivered to Earth orbit by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne air-launched system will be the core component of Arqit’s Platform-as-a-Service, delivering the root source of randomness to all Arqit data centres using Arqit’s ground breaking Quantum protocol ARQ19.

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Virgin Orbit Announces New Partnership with Maritime Intelligence Firm Horizon Technologies

Closeup on LauncherOne. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

LONG BEACH, Calif., 21 December 2021 (Virgin Orbit PR) – Virgin Orbit, the US-based responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA), announced today the signing of a termsheet establishing a close and multi-faceted partnership with Horizon Technologies (“Horizon”), the UK-based global leader in innovative space-based Maritime Domain Awareness (“MDA”) through signals intelligence. According to the agreement, Virgin Orbit will become Horizon’s preferred launch partner, will take an equity stake in the company, and will appoint a Virgin Orbit representative to Horizon’s board of directors. Horizon currently plans to take advantage of LauncherOne’s unique ability to reach tailored orbits for at least five launches.

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Virgin Orbit Delays Next Launch Until After Merger Vote

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Orbit has delayed its next satellite launch, originally set for Wednesday, Dec. 22, to next month. The launch will come after shareholders of NextGen Acquisition Corp. II vote on Dec. 28 on whether to merge with Richard Branson’s launch services provider.

The merger with the special purpose acquisition company would allow Virgin Orbit to go public on Nasdaq under its own name. The deal will provide $483 million in capital to allow the company to grow.

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SatRevolution Secures Series B Funding From Virgin Orbit

REC satellite (Credit: SatRevolution)
  • Transaction cements strategic partnership between SatRevolution and Virgin Orbit
  • The total Series B fundraise is estimated to close at $30 million
  • Investment values SatRevolution at $150 million

PARIS, 14 DECEMBER 2021 (Virgin Orbit/SatRevolution PR) – SatRevolution S.A. (“SatRev or the “Company”), a Polish developer and manufacturer of nanosatellites and nanosatellite technologies, today announced that it has secured Series B funding (the “Transaction”) from Virgin Orbit, the US-based responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA). The Transaction values SatRev at approximately $150 million, and will support SatRev’s business development.

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Virgin Orbit Invests in Hypersat

PARIS, 15 DECEMBER 2021 (Virgin Orbit PR) – Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA), announced today an agreement to acquire a 17.5% stake in geospatial analytics company Hypersat LLC (“Hypersat”).

This investment will further expand Virgin Orbit’s space solutions business by providing highly accurate electro-optic and hyperspectral imagery capabilities, which can provide vital information to customers in the agriculture, defense, energy, insurance, and minerals industries, among others. The investment by Virgin Orbit is part of the company’s strategy to leverage the relationships with its satellite launch customers and space solutions end users. As part of that strategy, Virgin Orbit has previously announced investments in ArQit Quantum, SatRevolution, and Sky and Space Global.

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NetGen Acquisition Corp. II Sets Vote on Virgin Orbit Merger

  • Special meeting of stockholders of NextGen Acquisition Corp. II scheduled for December 28, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time
  • Upon closing, Virgin Orbit will be listed on NASDAQ under the new ticker symbol “VORB”
  • The boards of directors of Virgin Orbit and NextGen Acquisition Corp. II have unanimously approved the Business Combination

LONG BEACH, Calif. & BOCA RATON, Fla., December 08, 2021 (Virgin Orbit/NextGen Acquisition II PR) — NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (NASDAQ:NGCA) (“NextGen”) today announced that its Registration Statement on Form S-4 in connection with the previously announced business combination (the “Business Combination”) with Vieco USA, Inc., the parent company of Virgin Orbit (“Virgin Orbit” or the “Company”), the responsive launch and space solutions company, has been declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

NextGen has set December 28, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time for a special meeting of stockholders to approve the proposals associated with the Business Combination. The proxy statement to its stockholders is available at:  https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/0001843388/000121390021063966/f424b31221_nextgenacq2.htm.

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