Virgin Orbit is set to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisitions company (SPAC), the company has confirmed. The deal values the combined enterprise at $3.2 billion, and will provide Virgin Orbit with $483 million in cash at close, including a $100 million PIPE. The combined company will trade under the ticker VORB on the Nasdaq if and when the transaction concludes.
In June, CNBC reported that such a deal was in the works, and it’s been a popular exit option for private space startups in recent months. Rocket Lab’s SPAC merger was just approved, for instance, and it’ll begin trading on Wednesday, and Richard Branson’s other space company, Virgin Galactic, was the first big SPAC deal that ushered in the craze.
Virgin Galactic, which focuses on flying people to suborbital space, and Virgin Orbit, which transports small satellite payloads to low Earth orbit using similar technology, used to be a single company before the two split to provide more focus on their respective markets. Both Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit made significant progress this year, achieving milestone flights, including a first full crew space launch for Galactic, and a first commercial satellite payload delivery mission for Orbit.
Virgin Orbit launches its LauncherOne rocket from the wing of a customized 747 aircraft, which acts as a fully reusable first stage for the overall launch system. The company also has a subsidiary called VOX Space that acts as a dedicated launch service provider to the national security launch market.
NextGen, the blank check company that Virgin Orbit is merging with to complete this transaction, is led by a former Goldman Sachs partner, and will provide up to $383 million in cash from its funds held in trust when the merger goes through.