Stratolaunch built the Roc with a 385-foot wingspan. Photo: Stratolaunch
A company has emerged to build the world's largest aircraft as a key contender for the assets of Sir Richard Branson's failed space company Virgin Orbit.
Stratolaunch, which has developed a 385-foot-span aircraft designed for delivery rockets to high altitude, earned $17m (£13.6m) from the bankrupt rocket company's assets.
The deal values the remainder of the business only a few times cheaper than Virgin Orbit was worth $3bn when it went public in 2021.
Court documents state that Stratolaunch's offer was a “chase horse” for the company's assets, effectively a reserve price for others. The documents say the offer was backed by Sir Richard's Virgin Investments.
Virgin Orbit uses a Boeing 747, nicknamed Cosmic Girl, to fly rockets to 35,000 feet before launching them into space. Credit: AP
Virgin Orbit filed for bankruptcy in April after spending more than $1 billion trying to launch a commercial spacecraft launch business.
The company uses a Boeing 747, nicknamed Cosmic Girl, to deliver rockets to 35,000 feet and then drop them. them from under your wing. Then the rockets fly into orbit.
However, Virgin Orbit's latest mission ended in failure after attempting to launch the first orbiting satellite from British soil. Its launch from Cornwall ended shortly after its rocket hit an anomaly and crashed into the sea.
Virgin Orbit said it had received 30 expressions of interest in the company or its assets since filing for bankruptcy.
Stratolaunch was founded in 2011 and also delivers rockets to high altitudes via aircraft.
Its aircraft, called the Roc, is even bigger than the famous Spruce Goose aircraft built by aviation magnate Howard Hughes . in the 1940s and weighs 500,000 pounds.
Roc has flown 10 times, although he has never flown a space mission. Since then, it has focused on providing test-launch services for hypersonic aircraft. The company was acquired by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in 2019.
In court filings, Virgin Orbit and its bankers said they remain open to other potential proposals. The auction of his assets will take place on Monday.