Exciting times for virgin orbit today. Cosmic girl is doing her thing!
For anyone who is excited about the current space race and got swept up in everything last year. Ignore SPCE & Jeff ‘Midlife crisis’ Bezos this is where the money is. Hauling stuff into space makes for a good business, if VO can get this right it’ll be fantastic for investors.
I’ve not done a full DD on Virgin Orbit so this is what I know.
Yes Branson is involved, hence the name, but as a businessman he’s famous for hiring the right people and letting them get on with it. He’s your typical ideals guys not an operator.
VO has a niche which is to launch satellites into orbit - like Rocket Lab, Astra, Space X … but BO do it from a plane. This means with some ground crew they can launch from any major runway and importantly in weather a rocket cannot launch in.
The difference between Orbit & Galactic is like the difference between running a limo company V a haulier. It’s far less glamorous but it pays the bills properly.
I don’t own any VO at the moment as my portfolio got a bit messy but I’ll try and dig into the numbers when I get 5 mins that I’m not writing, working, decorating or chasing my toddler around!
Problem with VORB launching satellites via a plane launcher is that you’re limited by the size of payload you can launch. Yes, you can build a bigger plane to take a larger launcher into orbit, so why not just develop a medium size rocket instead? Seems backwards to me.
At least when a rocket explodes on a launchpad the place is cleared. If Virgin Orbit ever had a major rocket malfunction when its still strapped to the plane it would/could be catastrophic for the crew.
Space is hard there is no doubt about it. Let’s not forget that this isn’t a zero sum game, if VO execute they won’t be wiping out other launchers.
VO is by no means a proven company with a launch book and schedule established and with an EBITA of -£155m they need to do more to justify the $2bn+ valuation a there is a huge amount of future growth already priced in.
Definitely has its own niche it can serve but I feel like its the most risky Rocket company that’s available to invest in because it would be the hardest for them to recover from if a launch went awry. If Rocket Lab, Astra or SpaceX lose a rocket they’ll already have another Rocket in the pipeline being built and only have to repair ground equipment. I feel like if VO ever lost a rocket at decoupling and it ended up taking the Boeing 747 with it it could be unrecoverable for them.