Firefly Space Systems, a private aerospace which was developing vehicles to launch small to medium sized satellites to orbit, laid off its staff of 159 employees and is exploring a possible sale of the company, according to a news report in Space News.
Last year, NASA selected Firefly, based in Cedar Park, for a $5.5 million contract to demonstrate a CubeSat launch by March of 2018, according to a news release.
Last week, the company let its workers go and posted a note on its Twitter feed about running into trouble closing on financing to keep the company operating.
— Firefly Space (@Firefly_Space) September 29, 2016
This week, Firefly co-founder and chief executive Thomas Markusic told Space News that a major investor pulled out of its Series A funding round.
“The second large investor, which we had been working with for a year and had everything finalized, dropped out at really absolutely the last minute,” he said. “Suddenly we were left with half of our Series A funding unaccounted for.”
Markusic is working on raising funds but also told Space News that he is exploring a possible sale of the company.
The company filed papers last June with the Securities and Exchange Commission reporting it had raised $19 million of a $38.2 million offering.
Space News also reports that an arbitrator recently concluded that Markusic destroyed evidence at his former company Virgin Galactic that could have implicated him in a scheme to steal trade secrets for Firefly. Virgin Galactic has sued Markusic accusing him of taking technology he developed at Virgin Galactic with him to form Firefly. Firefly also sued Markusic to try to keep him from divulging trade secrets.