Branson's Virgin Orbit to go public

Billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit is moving into another realm.

It's going public through a merger with a blank-check vehicle in a deal that values it at $3.2 billion, including an investment from Boeing.

The small satellite launch service provider's deal with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II also includes a private investment in public equity of $100 million.

Branson's Virgin Orbit is seen as a front-runner in a new breed of firms building miniaturised launch systems.

They want to cash in on the growth of compact satellites expected in the coming years.

These firms offer a unique "air-launch" method of sending satellites to orbit with small-launch systems.

Blank-check companies, also known as SPACs, use capital they raise through an IPO to merge with a private firm and take it public.

Virgin Orbit was spun-off from Branson's space tourism company Virgin Galactic in 2017.

It reached space for the first time in January when it delivered ten NASA satellites to orbit.

The company is led by aviation veteran Dan Hart, a former executive at Boeing.

The deal with NextGen Acquisition is expected to provide $483 million in proceeds for the combined company.

Virgin Orbit will list on the Nasdaq.

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