Virgin Orbit Continues to Seek $46.3 Million from OneWeb

LauncherOne operated in powered flight for only seconds before an anomaly shut it down after being dropped from the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747. (Credit; Virgin Orbit)

With OneWeb having emerged from bankruptcy, the satellite broadband company new owners, Bharti Global and the British government, have had to deal with creditors.

Virgin Orbit is one of them. Richard Branson’s launch provider is still trying to collect $46.3 million the company feels it is owned from a deal gone bad.

In 2015, OneWeb announced a deal to purchase 39 satellite launches on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne booster, with an option for 100 more flights. It was a very large order for a launch vehicle that didn’t exist yet.

OneWeb cut the order down to four launches in 2018, saying that Virgin Orbit’s launch service is too expensive.

Virgin Orbit sued, saying it was owed $46.3 million out of $70 million in cancellation fees. OneWeb said its contract allowed the $66 million it previously paid to Virgin Orbit to be put toward the cancellation fees.

The lawsuit was paused after OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in March. SpaceNews reports that Virgin Orbit is now back in court seeking payment from the revived company. OneWeb claims it owes Virgin Orbit nothing.

Virgin Orbit conducted the first flight test of LauncherOne on May 25. The first-stage engine failed about four seconds into its burn after being dropped from a modified Boeing 747.

Virgin Orbit said a fuel line failed. The company is planned to attempt another launch at the end of this year.