Capitalism in space: On December 13 the smallsat rocket company Vector officially filed for bankruptcy, a precursor to having its assets sold off.
The company filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, the state where the company was incorporated.
…Vector had been one of the leading companies in the small launch vehicle market until August, when the company said that a “significant change in financing” led it to pause operations and lay off nearly all of its more than 150 employees. Jim Cantrell, Vector’s chief executive, also left the company at the time. That announcement came just two days after the company won an Air Force launch contract.
According to industry sources familiar with the company, the August layoffs were triggered when one of the company’s major investors, venture fund Sequoia, withdrew its support for the company because of concerns about how the company was managed. That came as Vector was working on a new funding round, and Sequoia’s decision had a domino effect, causing other investors to back out. Sequoia didn’t respond to a request for comment in August about any role it played in Vector’s problems.
The company is currently being funded through “debtor in possession” financing from Lockheed Martin, according to a resolution by Vector’s board of directors included in the filing. Under a Nov. 20 agreement, Lockheed provided Vector with a $500,000 secured loan and proposed purchasing Vector’s assets associated with a satellite program called GalacticSky for no more than $2.5 million.
While companies sometimes recover from this situation, in this case Vector looks quite dead, for good. A real tragedy, but part of the reality of capitalism. The competition fuels innovation and success, but carries great risk and the real possibility of failure.
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