cnbc_official OP t1_jeg3hh1 wrote

Not too long ago, Virgin Orbit was in rarified air among U.S. rocket builders, and executives were in New York celebrating its public stock debut.

The scene was true to the marketing pizazz that has helped Sir Richard Branson build his Virgin empire of companies, showcasing with a rocket model in the middle of Times Square.

The deal, facilitated by a so-called blank check company, gave Virgin Orbit a valuation of nearly $4 billion. But that moment in December 2021 – when the craze surrounding public offerings centered on special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, was dying out – previewed the pain to come.

Now, Virgin Orbit is on the brink of bankruptcy. The company on Thursday halted operations and laid off nearly all of its staff. Its stock was trading around 20 cents Friday, leaving it with a market value of about $74 million.

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cnbc_official OP t1_jeaols7 wrote

From reporter Michael Sheetz:

“Boeing pushed back the flight schedule of its Starliner capsule by several months, the company said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday."

That sentence holds true this week – but the problem is, I wrote it five years ago.

At the time, Boeing and SpaceX were seen as neck-and-neck in a race to finish development of their respective crewed spacecraft and be the first to fly NASA astronauts. Even then, each company had faced its share of delays, but NASA estimated flight tests were months apart. Until they weren’t.

Fast forward to the present. Boeing and SpaceX each won contracts to fly six operational missions with astronauts. The latter is poised to finish nearly all of its six before the former even flies a crewed demo mission.

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cnbc_official OP t1_jdjakh1 wrote

Rocket Lab is building a bigger, reusable launch vehicle called Neutron, and it’s targeting a price point near $50 million per launch to challenge Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

“We are positioning Neutron to compete directly with the Falcon 9,” Rocket Lab Chief Financial Officer Adam Spice said earlier this week, speaking at a Bank of America event in London on Tuesday.

The company announced Neutron when it went public in 2021, with Spice saying the rocket remains on track to debut in 2024. During its fourth-quarter report last month, Rocket Lab said it had begun producing the first tank structures of Neutron, as well as construction of the launch pad for the rocket. The company plans to conduct the first “hot fire test” of an Archimedes engine, which will power Neutron, “by the end of the year,” Spice said.

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cnbc_official OP t1_jd84d96 wrote

Virgin Orbit is in final talks to raise funds from Texas-based investor Matthew Brown, two people familiar with the deal told CNBC, amounting to an injection of $200 million.

Virgin Orbit and Brown began deal talks last week, one of the people said, around the same time the company announced it was pausing operations and furloughing most employees to seek a financial lifeline. Brown would get a controlling stake in the rocket builder, according to the people, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss private negotiations.

The parties aim to close the deal as soon as Thursday, the people said.

At the same time, one person familiar with the matter said, the company has continued to talk to another, yet unnamed potential investor, who was in discussion with Virgin Orbit prior to the talks with Brown.

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cnbc_official OP t1_ja9tgag wrote

Turkey has arrested 184 people suspected of responsibility for the collapse of buildings in this month’s earthquakes and investigations are widening, a minister said on Saturday, as anger simmers over what many see as corrupt building practices.

Overnight, the death toll from the earthquakes, the most powerful of which struck at the dead of night on Feb. 6, rose to 44,128 in Turkey. That took the overall number of deaths in Turkey and neighbouring Syria to more than 50,000.

More than 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 apartments collapsed or were severely damaged in Turkey by the disaster, the worst in the country’s modern history.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that more than 600 people had been investigated in connection with collapsed buildings, speaking during a news conference in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, which was among 10 provinces hit by the disaster.

Those formally arrested and remanded in custody include 79 construction contractors, 74 people who bear legal responsibility for buildings, 13 property owners and 18 people who had made alterations to buildings, he said.

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cnbc_official OP t1_j9vobs3 wrote

The U.S. military is preparing to buy another round of rocket launches from companies next year, and Space Force leadership says they’re taking a new “mutual fund approach” to the acquisition strategy.

“As opposed to picking a single stock, we pick two different approaches, because we thought that would best allow the government to pivot,” said Colonel Chad Melone, the chief of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command’s Launch Procurement & Integration division, in a press briefing on Friday.

Earlier this month the Space Force kicked off the process to buy five years worth of launches, under a lucrative program known as National Security Space Launch Phase 3. In 2020, the second phase of NSSL awarded contracts to two companies – Elon Musk’s SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin– for about 40 military missions, worth about $1 billion per year.

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cnbc_official OP t1_j9lkylp wrote

For the last year, 331 seafarers and 61 ships have been trapped in Ukrainian ports, and calls for their expedited release are intensifying.

The International Chamber of Shipping, along with over 30 other organizations and companies, have written a letter urgently calling on the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to prioritize the immediate release of these sailors and vessels.

The ICS, which represents 80% of all global vessels, tells CNBC this is a safety and security issue for the stranded vessels and crews.

“Many of the ports are far too dangerous for the ships,” said Guy Platten, secretary general of the ICS. “There may be sea mines. They [the vessels] may be under threat of attack, so they just could not move. And we really fear for their safety. From the very beginning, we’ve had one or two crew members who sadly have been hit by collateral damage and died, and others who’ve been injured. We’ve had ships that have been damaged as well.

”Since the start of the war with Russia, the number of trapped seafarers and vessels has gone down as some vessels have been able to operate in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allows for the safe passage of vessels carrying grain. But ICS is concerned about the safety and health of the remaining 331 seafarers since supplies are very low and they have not been on land in almost a year. The men and women hail from 15 European and Asian countries.

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cnbc_official OP t1_iunfhh2 wrote

Shares of U.S. social media companies Snap and Meta spiked on the news that a Federal Communications Commissioner said the U.S. government should ban TikTok.

“I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban,” Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr told Axios in an interview.

Snap shares were up 6% and Meta shares were up 4% Tuesday afternoon.

The comments from Carr, one of four current commissioners at the Democrat-led agency, do not necessarily signal any pending actions against TikTok.

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