Virgin Orbit factory
Virgin Orbit's main production facility, with several LauncherOne vehicles being built, in an undated photo. Credit: Virgin Orbit

Updated at 10:30 p.m. Eastern with Firefly statement.

WASHINGTON — Firefly Aerospace has agreed to buy Virgin Orbit’s remaining assets — inventory at two company production facilities — as part of Virgin Orbit’s bankruptcy proceedings.

In June 15 filings with the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware overseeing Virgin Orbit’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, representatives of the companies said that Firefly agreed to buy the assets that has not been sold at auction in May for $3.8 million.

The assets, designated Segment 5 in bankruptcy proceedings, are the inventory at Virgin Orbit’s two facilities in Long Beach, California. That includes engines and other components built or in production for the LauncherOne vehicles that Virgin Orbit manufactured there. It also includes two engines in storage at a Virgin Orbit test site in Mojave, California.

That inventory was not sold at a May 22 auction that disposed of most of the rest of the company’s assets. In that auction, Virgin Orbit’s Boeing 747 and related equipment was acquired by Stratolaunch, the company’s main production facility in Long Beach was sold to Rocket Lab and the Mojave test site was purchased by Launcher. A liquidation company, Inliper Acquisition LLC, bought the machinery and equipment in a second Long Beach facility.

At the time of the auction, Virgin Orbit said that it “deemed it in the best interests of the Debtors’ estates” not to sell the inventory at the Long Beach facilities. In one of the June 15 filings, a representative of Ducera Partners LLC, hired by Virgin Orbit to assist in the sale of the assets, said that Firefly made a bid for the inventory assets at the auction but at “a level that was not acceptable.”

Negotiations continued after the auction with several parties, concluding with the $3.8 million offer from Firefly. The filings did not disclose the identities of the other parties involved in the discussions for the assets.

It’s unclear what Firefly’s plans for those assets are. The company is developing its own launch vehicle, Alpha, which has flown twice; a third launch is expected in the near future for the U.S. Space Force. The company is also developing lunar landers called Blue Ghost and an orbital transfer vehicle called the Space Utility Vehicle.

“Firefly strategically bid and purchased the Virgin Orbit inventory for the significant cost savings on common off-the-shelf components that we use in our product lines, and the benefit of eliminated supply chain lead-times associated with critical flight components,” Firefly Aerospace said in a statement late June 16. “Firefly will not be utilizing all of the inventory and plans to provide additional information to parties who may be interested in purchasing.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...