Commercial space-flight operator Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. on Tuesday said it would cut staff in an effort to focus on developing its new class of Delta spacecraft that are expected to cost less and bring more profit.
Management, in an email to employees, did not offer specific figures on the cuts, while citing a shaky investing environment as part of the reason for them. The message said the company would offer more details during its third-quarter earnings call on Wednesday.
when reached on Tuesday, declined to offer additional information. Executives over the summer said they expected commercial service for Delta ships to begin in 2026, after testing in 2025.
Shares were little changed after hours on Tuesday. The stock has fallen 50.4% so far this year.
The cuts follow a handful of space flights this year from Virgin Galactic, which was founded by billionaire Richard Branson. But Chief Executive Michael Colglazier, in the email, said that following successes from the spaceship Unity and its carrier mothership, Eve, the company needed to “reduce our reliance on unpredictable capital markets.”
“To profitably scale our business, we must first invest upfront capital to create a fleet of ships based on a standardized production model — the Delta Class ships,” Colglazier said in the email.
He added that “uncertainty has grown in the capital markets,” with higher interest rates pressuring borrowing and “geopolitical unrest” making for a more cautious environment. He said the Delta spacecraft played a key role in expanding flight service and profitability, and that it was crucial to focus on bringing them into service.
“Interest rates remain high, which adds pressure to companies who are investing today for profits that will come in the future,” he said. “Geopolitical unrest continues to expand, and the combination of these factors makes near-term access to capital much less favorable.”
“The Delta ships are powerful economic engines,” he continued. “To bring them into service, we need to extend our strong financial position and reduce our reliance on unpredictable capital markets. We will accomplish this, but it requires us to redirect our resources toward the Delta ships while streamlining and reducing our work outside of the Delta program.”
He said employees would be notified of their job status between Tuesday and Thursday. Employees will be working from home for the rest of the week, Colglazier said, adding that on-site work locations would be unavailable through that time.
“Delta ships have been designed to have a relatively low unit-production cost and have a material improvement flight cadence relative to our initial ship, VSS Unity,” Colglazier said on Virgin Galactic’s earnings call in August.
“The Delta development process has yielded some excellent enhancements to the ship’s architecture, particularly with regard to manufacturability and maintainability,” he said. “And we are tracking well against our primary ship-performance criteria.”