Virgin Orbit shares have come plummeting back to earth after its much-anticipated UK space launch failed last night.
Shares for the Richard Branson-headed company dropped by 23 per cent on NASDAQ pre-trading and were trading down around 16 per cent this afternoon.
It comes after the Virgin Orbit rocket, the first launch from UK soil, suffered an anomaly after its launch from Cornwall spaceport last night and was unable to release its satellites.
“Virgin Orbit shares rose like a rocket but dropped disappointingly back down to earth after the failure of the satellite launch in Cornwall,” Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.
“Shares have fallen by more than 23 per cent in pre-market trading reflecting investors’ deep disappointment. The cash burn rate for the company has been huge, and the prospects for revenue have been significantly set back. While space may have been heralded as the new investment frontier, the ventures clearly come with a huge amount of risk,” Streeter added.
Speaking about the anomaly in launching, Mark Bogget, CEO of Seraphim Space, told City A.M. that it was important to look at the event in context.
“Even though it was unfortunate, such anomalies on launches are rare. Virgin Orbit has had five successful launches with no hitch. This would have been the sixth,” he said.
The UKSpace trade association said in an early morning press release that they would look to the future and learn from this incident.
“Following the unsuccessful conclusion to the historic first orbital launch from UK soil, the UKspace trade association is now looking to the future with confidence that Britain’s space sector can build upon the significant achievements it has accomplished so far around launch capability,” they said.
The UK produces the most satellites of any country in the world, but this was meant to be the first launch on national soil and hoped to showcase the UK’s potential to also become a satellite launching market.
UKSpace president Dr Alice Bunn yesterday told City A.M. the £11m investment from the government would establish the UK space sector into a satellite launching industry while Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri told City A.M. that the launch would inspire confidence in the UK space sector.
However, not all is lost for the sector, with Bogget indicating that there is more to come for UK space.
In a show of optimism, Bogget told City A.M., “I would be very surprised if there wasn’t another rocket launch on UK soil in 2023.”