Layoffs hit the house corporations Ursa Main and Orbit Fab from Colorado

The company is testing one of its Ripley rocket engines in Colorado.

Ursa Major

Two space companies in Colorado laid off employees last week to adjust to the new normal of a tight funding environment.

The layoffs came at Ursa Major, a rocket engine maker, and Orbit Fab, a start-up focused on fueling spacecraft.

A person familiar with Ursa Major told CNBC the company laid off 27% of its employees, or about 80 people. A spokesman for Ursa Major confirmed to CNBC that the company was being restructured, but declined to give details on the number of layoffs. In a statement, Ursa Major said the job cuts “refocus our workforce to better serve the needs of our national security customers.”

“We want to recognize the contributions of all current and former Ursa Major professionals. Their efforts and achievements cannot be overstated, and we deeply appreciate the advances in space and hypersonic propulsion they have made possible,” said Ursa Major.

In LinkedIn posts, several former Ursa Major employees wrote that Wednesday was a “rough day” at the company as “great people” were laid off in the wake of the “big layoffs.”

Orbit Fab chief commercial officer Adam Harris said in a statement to CNBC that ten employees were laid off this week and the company will have about 50 employees after the reorganization. The company recently hired a new chief operating officer and plans to hire a chief engineer and additional staff in the coming months.

“Our refined strategy will allow Orbit Fab to better serve the critical and growing demand for in-space fueling infrastructure for commercial and government markets and missions,” said Harris.

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After years of record financing levels in the space sector, the first quarter of 2023 was the lowest investment period in the industry since 2015, according to Space Capital.

According to PitchBook, Ursa Major last raised money in October, with a $150 million round at a $550 million valuation. Founded in 2015 and based in Berthoud, Colorado, the company employed about 300 people before the layoffs. The Ursa Major range of rocket engines has received orders from customers such as the Air Force Research Laboratory, Stratolaunch and Astra.

According to Pitchbook, Orbit Fab recently raised $29 million in April with a valuation of $113 million. Orbit Fab, based in Lafayette, Colorado, was founded in 2018 and aims to offer spacecraft refueling services as early as 2025 after launching demonstration flights in 2019 and 2021. The company has received initial contracts from Space Force and the UK Space Agency.

TechCrunch first reported on the layoffs at Ursa Major.

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