Satellite launch operator Virgin Orbit has implemented what it describes as a “company-wide operational pause” in the face of a cash crunch.

Announcing the move in an update to the US stock exchange on 16 March, the California-headquartered company said the halt was needed “in order to conserve capital while the company conducts discussions with potential funding sources and explores strategic opportunities”.

LauncherOne and 747-c-Virgin Orbit

Source: Virgin Orbit

Reuters, which first reported the news, says that the majority of Virgin Orbit’s staff have been placed on indefinite furlough.

But there is no guarantee the company will succeed in securing additional funding: there “can be no assurance that these discussions will result in any transaction”, Virgin Orbit cautions.

It expects the operational stand-down to continue until at least 21 March.

Over the past year, Virgin Orbit’s stock price has plunged from a high of $7.55 per share to $0.71 as the market closed on 16 March. At its three-year high point, shares were trading at just under $10.50.

Virgin Orbit uses a modified Boeing 747-400 to place small satellite payloads into orbit using its LauncherOne rocket.

In January, a rocket and its payload were destroyed shortly after launch from UK airspace – the country’s first such misison – due to an in-flight anomaly.