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.

Arqit and Virgin Orbit are collaborating on responsive space initiatives serving the nations of the Five Eyes (FVEY) international intelligence alliance, comprising of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Arqit announced in September at the G7 conference the creation of a program called “Federated Quantum System.” This is a private instance of Arqit’s QuantumCloudTM technology that allied defense departments requiring sovereign control over mission critical encryption can purchase from Arqit. These long-term, high-value subscription contracts involve Arqit’s supply of ring-fenced dedicated systems. Arqit has committed to launch such additional customer funded systems exclusively with Virgin Orbit, and that contract allows for up to five launches that will be realized as anticipated government contracts move forward to utilize Arqit’s services.

The parties are also pleased to announce that the QuantumCloudTM Software License signed between the companies in parallel to the launch services agreement will also enable Virgin Orbit to use Arqit’s world-leading platform to provide market-leading encryption to secure Virgin Orbit’s global infrastructure. Thus Virgin Orbit becomes the world’s first quantum safe launch services provider.

Dan Hart, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Orbit commented: “I am delighted to advance such a comprehensive collaboration with Arqit. Supporting Arqit’s long term subscription agreements with its defense department customers is important and rewarding business for us. Following a year of increased awareness of cyber risks to businesses and governments, we’re excited for the opportunity to provide our customers with the promise that Arqit’s unique QuantumCloudTM  system can keep their mission safe.”

“I am delighted that another prestigious global brand has decided to use QuantumCloudTM to keep their customers’ assets safe,” said David Williams, Founder of Arqit. It is also great to be able to rely in Virgin Orbit’s responsive launch capability to support the private instance contracts that we are selling to our government and defense customers. This sales campaign has proceeded well in the last few months. The revenues from these contracts are expected to provide strong underpinning to our profitability whilst the global Platform-as-a-Service rolls out more generally. So it is critical that these systems are deployed when we need them, and Virgin Orbit can give that to us.”


Arqit supplies a unique quantum encryption Platform-as-a-Service which makes the communications links of any networked device secure against current and future forms of attack – even from a quantum computer. Arqit’s product, QuantumCloud™, enables any device to download a lightweight software agent, which can create encryption keys in conjunction with any other device. The keys are computationally secure, optionally one-time use and zero trust. QuantumCloud™ can create limitless volumes of keys in limitless group sizes and can regulate the secure entrance and exit of a device in a group. The addressable market for QuantumCloud™ is every connected device.


Virgin Orbit operates one of the most flexible and responsive space launch systems ever built. Founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021, and has already delivered commercial, civil, national security, and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747- 400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs. On August 22, 2021, Virgin Orbit entered into a definitive agreement to combine with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (NASDAQ: NGCA), a special purpose acquisition company, which would result in Virgin Orbit becoming a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol VORB. To learn more, visit


NextGen Acquisition Corp. II is a blank check company whose business purpose is to effect a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses. NextGen is led by George Mattson, a former Partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Gregory Summe, former Chairman and CEO of Perkin Elmer and Vice Chairman of the Carlyle Group. NextGen is listed on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “NGCA.” For more information, please visit