Virgin Orbit Completes Key Failure Investigation Test, Confirms Cornwall Failure Root Cause and Path Forward for Return to Flight

  • Virgin Orbit had previously identified a dislodged filter in the fuel line of its upper stage engine as the likely cause of its January mission failure.
  • Wednesday’s tests were the completion of a month-long campaign to test and verify the cause and proposed modification.
  • These critical tests confirmed that the new design is robust.

LONG BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- On Wednesday, April 12th, 2023, Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc. (“Virgin Orbit” or the “Company”) successfully completed a month long, full-scale test series to verify the root cause of the January 9th launch failure and test and verify the modification designed to address it.

A key element to the investigation focusing on the filter in the fuel tank outlet, the test campaign recreated flight conditions and demonstrated the dislodging and subsequent travel of the filter into the Newton-4 engine. This high-fidelity test article included all the key elements of the fuel feed system up to the engine inlet.

Ground test results matched flight data, confirming the dislodging of the filter as the initiation event of the January launch failure. A series of nine tests verified the performance of a redesigned filter.

The failure investigation centered on a standard fault tree methodology which guided the investigation and key analyses and tests. All potentially credible scenarios were investigated. The modified design, that has now been verified through test, has been incorporated into the Company’s next rocket which is planned for flight from Mojave Air and Space Port later this year.


Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc operates one of the most flexible and responsive space launch systems ever built. Founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017, the Company began commercial service in 2021, and has already delivered commercial, civil, national security, and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747-400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Learn more at and visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @virginorbit, and on Instagram @virgin.orbit.


This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. The Company intends such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements contained in this press release other than statements of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding the expected performance of rocket modifications and the anticipated timing of the Company’s next flight. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” “will be,” “will continue,” “will likely result,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to the timing and outcome of the Company's current proceedings (the “Chapter 11 Cases”) under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (“Chapter 11”) and the Company’s filing for relief under Chapter 11; the impact of the Chapter 11 Cases on the listing of the Company’s securities on the Nasdaq Stock Market; the impact of the Termination and Debrand Agreement, dated April 2, 2023, with Virgin Enterprises Limited on the Company’s business; as well as the factors, risks and uncertainties included in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022 as well as in the Company’s subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), accessible on the SEC’s website at and the Investor Information section of the Company’s website at Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Virgin Orbit assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Virgin Orbit gives no assurance that it will achieve its expectations.

Alison Patch, Senior Director of Communications

Source: Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc.