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Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit to go public through $3.2 billion SPAC merger

PUBLISHED ON 2021-08-23 21:52:00 EST Arghyadeep

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Virgin Orbit, a launch service provider company for small satellites, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, announced to go public on Monday and list itself on Nasdaq via a SPAC merger.

The company is merging with a blank check company NextGen Acquisition Corp. II, which trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker “NGCA” in a deal valued at $3.2 billion, which is expected to close near the end of the year.

Upon closure of the transaction and the shares will convert to “VORB.”

The deal is expected to raise $483 million for Virgin Orbit and will also include a $100 million private investment in public equity (PIPE). Boeing and AE Industrial Partners participated in the PIPE round, besides other existing investors.

Virgin Origin was spined off from space tourism company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc in 2017 and is currently privately owned by Branson’s multinational conglomerate Virgin Group, with a minority stake from Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala — which together have invested about $1 billion in Virgin Orbit to date.

The company offers a unique “air-launch” method of sending satellites to orbit using a modified Boeing 747 aircraft to launch its rockets.

Rather than launching rockets from the ground, the 747 aircraft carries its LauncherOne rocket to an altitude of about 45,000 feet and launch it  – a method Virgin touts as more flexible than a ground-based system.

LauncherOne is designed to carry a total payload of up to 500 kilograms or about 1,100 pounds of multiple small satellites into space and completed three successful launches within thirteen months.

After a failed attempt last year, the company delivered ten NASA satellites to the earth’s orbit in January 2021.

Virgin Orbit is led by former Boeing executive and aviation veteran Dan Hart. The company’s government services unit VOX Space LLC sells launches to the U.S. military. Last year, it won a $35 million contract from the U.S. Space Force for three missions.

Picture Credit: CNet

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