on a mission
to make space
At Virgin Orbit, we are on a mission to make space for everyone. Just as the rockets we build and the satellites we launch are a key part of how we complete that mission, so, too, are the ways we engage our community, protect our environment, and inspire our neighbors here on planet Earth.
Inspired by our founder and by our sister companies within the Virgin Family, we truly believe that business not only can but must be a force for good in the world. From the start of our program, Virgin Orbit has engaged in meaningful educational, environmental, and philanthropic activities. Now, these activities – and others not yet begun – are being brought under a single name, one which reflects the importance we play on the global community of those who benefit from space exploration.
Orbit for Everyone
Our activities are varied, reflecting the diverse and passionate nature of our workforce. Teammates at Virgin Orbit are given agency and freedom to lead outreach activities that match their personal passions, which can result in a broad range of programs and audiences. In general, our work and our plans follow these four main thrusts:
We Boost Education
We engage with students of all ages and backgrounds, building upon the inherent fascination so many of them feel with space exploration to kindle their love for STEM fields and to guide them into STEM careers.
We Boost Inclusion
We take action to help make the space industry more welcoming to individuals of all backgrounds.
We Boost Community
We provide modest but meaningful financial grants to deserving organizations and projects in our local communities.
We Boost Access
We seek every opportunity we can to demonstrate and test solutions that solve space problems.
We strive to use our incredible and privileged platform—our visionary founder, our accomplished and creative team, our trailblazing rockets, and our globally recognized brand—to make space for everyone. We actively boost STEM education, our local communities, diversity and inclusion in our industry, and access for the worthiest causes to get to space.
Our activities are overwhelmingly employee-driven, and thus reflect the diverse interest and talents of our teammates. They also vary from year to year, for the same reason. But our major categories of activity are summarized below.
What We Do
We offer cash grants of up to $5,000 to organizations conducting activities in Los Angeles and Kern counties. Grants are awarded to fund STEM education activities, particularly but not limited to those with a direct aerospace application. Activities can be conducted in the virtual or physical world, but must have an impact here in our local communities in Southern California. Past recipients include the Columbia Memorial Space Center, the I4 FIRST Robotics team, the Youth Institute of the Greater Long Beach YMCA, Yuri’s Night Kids, and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
At least once per month, we open our rocket factory to student visits. These visits require advanced registration, but are totally free of charge. They typically occur on the third Saturday of every month, though other dates are possible with advanced coordination. Groups have included school tours, home-schooled students, and students from museums, science centers, and community organizations. Visiting students have a chance to see real rocket components, to learn about how we design, build, and test our technology, and to ask questions of our employees about their careers.
We know from experience that mentorship can make all of the difference in a person’s career. We’re pleased to provide mentorship to students and young professionals, placing a special emphasis on underrepresented minority groups that often have the least access to mentors.
Working with our friends at Galactic Unite, the philanthropic project of our sister company Virgin Galactic, we use video conferencing services like Google Hangouts to connect directly with students all around the world. Sessions typically last 30 minutes to an hour, with additional materials sent along in advance for optional review. Students have an opportunity to hear an overview of the program and to ask questions about the technology or about STEM career paths.
We were a proud member of the founding class for the Brooke Owens Fellowship program, a paid internship and executive mentorship program for extraordinary undergraduate women in aerospace, and we are thrilled to have employee more Brooke Owens Fellows than any other organization in the world. Additionally, we are pleased to support organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers and Women In Aerospace by providing tours, lectures, Q&A sessions, and mentorship to student and professional mentors.
In the near future, we look forward to revealing more about our plans to provide flight opportunities for educational or socially conscious technology experiments needing a ride to space.
In the near future, we look forward to revealing more about the important work we’ve been doing to be good stewards of the environment—both here on Earth and in space.
What We Won’t Do
Our company is made up of nearly five hundred extraordinarily passionate, creative, and purpose-driven individuals. If we championed every cause and donated to every campaign, we be spread so thinly that we’d accomplish nothing except burning ourselves out.
To keep ourselves sane and to keep our efforts impactful, we have to focus; which means that by design, we simply cannot help everyone. This means that even though we recognize them as worthy causes, we do not provide sponsorship or similar contributions to community organizations that aren’t focused on STEM (or, in some cases, STEAM) works. Though there are exceptions to every rule, this means that in the past, we’ve had to regretfully decline to support art activities such as local symphonies, benefit programs for medical research communities, beach clean-ups, and other wonderful programs.
We implore you not to mistake this for a lack of understanding of the value of such programs. Rather, this is a matter of focusing our contributions to those areas where we are best positioned to do meaningful good.
To date, ORBIT FOR EVERYONE’s activities have been fully funded by Virgin Orbit and by contributions of time or money by individual employees. In the future, we may seek not-for-profit status, and/or look to partner with other organizations in order to access greater financial resources. But for now, we believe that the most powerful, unique thing we have to offer to these important causes we believe in is access, rather than cash.