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  Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne satellite launcher

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Author Topic:   Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne satellite launcher
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38579
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-11-2012 07:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic release
Virgin Galactic reveals privately funded satellite launcher

Today [July 11] during the Farnborough International Air Show 2012, Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, announced "LauncherOne", a new air-launched rocket specifically designed to deliver small satellites into orbit.

With substantial funding already raised from Virgin Galactic's partner aabar Investments PJS, and with commercial flights of this new orbital launch vehicle expected to begin by 2016, Virgin Galactic aims to offer frequent and dedicated launches at the world's lowest prices. Virgin Galactic also announced that four private companies have already put down deposits as future LauncherOne customers, expressing their intent to purchase a total of several dozen launches, which would exceed the level of early commitment of any previous new launch vehicle.

"Virgin Galactic's goal is to revolutionize the way we get to space," Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson said. "I'm immensely proud of what we have already achieved as we draw near to regular suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo. Now, LauncherOne is bringing the price of satellite launch into the realm of affordability for innovators everywhere, from start-ups and schools to established companies and national space agencies. It will be a critical new tool for the global research community, enabling us all to learn about our home planet more quickly and affordably."

LauncherOne will be a two-stage vehicle capable of carrying up to 500 pounds (225 kilograms) to orbit for prices below $10 million. The rocket will be launched from Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo, the uniquely capable aircraft also designed to carry SpaceShipTwo aloft to begin her suborbital missions.

Thanks to the extreme flexibility of air launch, Virgin Galactic's customers will enjoy reduced infrastructure costs in addition to the wide range of possible launch locations tailored to individual mission requirements and weather conditions. Branson and other senior executives announced that work has already begun on the vehicle.

"Virgin Galactic continues to innovate space access, and LauncherOne is a key step in its successful commercialization," said Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny, CEO of aabar Investments PJS. "This development promises to redefine the small satellite market and to promote new research and education opportunities. aabar is proud to be partnering in this exciting journey by continuing to support Virgin Galactic and its initiatives."

Several LauncherOne customers were recognized at the event, representing a broad range of commercial satellite applications. Those named were Skybox Imaging (Skybox), a Silicon Valley-based firm that recently announced it has raised $91 million for a high resolution imaging constellation; GeoOptics Inc., a U.S.-based company developing a constellation of non-imaging remote sensing satellites; Spaceflight, Inc., the aggregator and integrator of small satellites; and Planetary Resources, Inc., the newly-announced, billionaire-backed asteroid mining venture.

Speaking at the event, Skybox CEO Tom Ingersoll said, "Skybox's objective is to provide world-class, affordable access to space imagery and information, and in order to do so, we need world-class, affordable access to space. Virgin Galactic is unique in having the right mix of ingredients to support our vision, as well as that of the growing small satellite community. We plan to make full use of LauncherOne."

Also today, two world leaders in small satellite manufacturing, Surrey Satellite Technology and Sierra Nevada Space Systems, announced that they would create optimized satellite designs to match LauncherOne's performance specifications. These optimized designs will allow customers to maximize the capability and minimize the time to market for their satellites. Sir Martin Sweeting, the founder of Surrey Satellite, spoke at the event about the growing potential of the small satellite industry.

"Small satellite launch is an area ripe for disruption," said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. "Miniaturized satellite components and constrained budgets are driving commercial clients, academic users and government agencies all to clamor for an affordable, dedicated launch vehicle. Now, thanks to aabar's investment, our existing capabilities, and the expert team we've already assembled, we're prepared to fill that void by bringing LauncherOne to market."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38579
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-25-2015 09:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic release
Virgin Galactic Signs Contract with OneWeb to Perform 39 Satellite Launches

Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments PJS, has signed a contract with OneWeb Ltd. to serve as one of its inaugural satellite launch providers. Under the terms of the Launch Services Agreement, Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne rocket will perform 39 satellite launches for OneWeb — one of the largest commercial procurements of launches in history. Beyond the firm contract, the agreement provides OneWeb with options for 100 additional launches.

OneWeb — which today announced new investment of $500M backed by world-class equity partners including Airbus Group, Bharti Enterprises, Grupo Salinas, Hughes Network Systems, (Hughes), a subsidiary of EchoStar Corp. Intelsat, Qualcomm Incorporated, The Coca-Cola Company and Virgin Group — is building a global communications system that will enable affordable broadband access around the world including in areas currently unserved or underserved by terrestrial providers.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said: "Virgin Galactic is hard at work to provide responsive launch capability to support OneWeb's historic constellation. The scale of this order will drive our manufacturing rates to achieve unprecedented cost reductions for small satellite launch. We are excited to support OneWeb and its partners as they harness the potential of small satellites to create new opportunities for all."

To achieve its goal of connecting the planet, OneWeb required a means of launching its satellites that is both affordable and flexible. Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne will enable an unprecedented quick launch and replenishment capability for OneWeb. LauncherOne is an affordable, flexible, and dedicated ride to orbit for small satellites, with the flight rates and performance capabilities to support OneWeb and other customers. Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne program is being developed by a staff of 120 engineers and technicians working from a new 150,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California, with rocket engine testing performed at the company's facilities in Mojave, California.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38579
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-14-2015 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic release
Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne Increases Payload Performance to Meet Robust Demand

On Track for Affordable, Responsive Small Satellite Launch Service with Dedicated Carrier Aircraft, State-of-the-Art Manufacturing and Design Facility, Growing Team of 150 Aerospace Professionals

Robust demand from the growing small satellite market has led Virgin Galactic to significantly increase the performance of its LauncherOne satellite launch service, the company announced today at the annual World Business Satellite Week in Paris. Driven by strong commercial demand for a launch service that can reliably, affordably, and responsively launch small satellites, Virgin Galactic has nearly doubled the amount of payload that customers can deliver to orbit for the same price.

For a price below US $10 million, LauncherOne will now be able to launch 200 kg into the standard Sun-Synchronous Orbit most commonly desired by small satellite missions, a marked increase from the system's originally projected performance to that orbit. Customers will also be able to purchase further increases in performance to the same orbit, as well as launches that reach other altitudes or inclinations. To lower LEO orbits, the system will be capable of launching over 400kg of payload.

As an air-launched system, LauncherOne can optimize each mission to customer requirements by operating from any of a variety of launch sites independent from the fixed, often congested, launch ranges and corresponding real-time launch constraints such as weather. Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of acquiring a commercial aircraft to add to its air launch fleet, which includes WhiteKnightTwo, enabling both the increased payload capacity and significantly higher flight rate. The company expects to finalize the acquisition in the coming months.

With a dedicated carrier aircraft and strong technical results achieved in an intensive hardware component testing campaign that began in 2013, this performance increase has been achieved by increasing the tank sizing of the rocket, maintaining schedule and launch price while significantly increasing value to customers. With full, private funding already committed to the program, a dedicated and world-class team of 150 experienced aerospace professionals hard at work, and a state-of-the-art 14,000 square meters (150,000 square foot) manufacturing and design facility in Long Beach, California, LauncherOne remains on target to be the most flexible and responsive launch vehicle to offer affordable, dedicated launches to smaller satellites.

Virgin Galactic revealed that these changes—which have been in work for many months and revealed publicly today—were driven by demand from commercial and government customers. With class-leading payload accommodations and the ability to accommodate both standard and customized form factors, LauncherOne appeals to a broad variety of satellite mission designs. LauncherOne's customer base includes firms such as global communications company OneWeb, which Virgin Galactic recently signed to one of the largest commercial launch orders in history for flights of its internet service satellites on LauncherOne.

Virgin Galactic CEO George T. Whitesides said, "The market has spoken, and we have listened: we have roughly doubled the payload for our customers without increasing the price. LauncherOne will be ready to meet the rapidly expanding needs of satellite startups, space agencies, and research institutions thanks to the investments we've already made in our engines, tanks, avionics, and our production infrastructure. Demand has become so significant that LauncherOne will have its own dedicated aircraft. Small satellites are big business, and we look forward to supporting satellite innovators to make history in space and to improve lives here on Earth."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38579
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-03-2015 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic release
Virgin Galactic Welcomes 'Cosmic Girl' To Fleet Of Space Access Vehicles

LauncherOne Program to use dedicated 747-400 aircraft to responsively air-launch small satellite customer payloads

Virgin Galactic introduced the newest addition to its fleet of vehicles today as part of a technical update on its LauncherOne small satellite launch service. The 747-400 commercial jet aircraft, previously operated by Virgin Atlantic under the nickname 'Cosmic Girl,' will provide a dedicated launch platform for the LauncherOne orbital vehicle. Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic engineers announced the acquisition of the aircraft while providing an update on LauncherOne development progress.

"Air launch enables us to provide rapid, responsive service to our satellite customers on a schedule set by their business and operational needs, rather than the constraints of national launch ranges," said George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO. "Selecting the 747 airframe provides a dedicated platform that gives us the capacity to substantially increase our payload to orbit without increasing our prices."

In September, Virgin Galactic announced that in response to customer demand, it had doubled LauncherOne's performance to 200kg into the standard Sun-Synchronous Orbit for a price below US$10 million, with the option to purchase further increases in performance to the same orbit and for launches that reach other altitudes or inclinations. The launch system is capable of launching over 400kg of payload to other orbits.

Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft will remain the mothership for SpaceShipTwo, enabling spaceship customers to enjoy a dedicated platform for suborbital spaceflight services out of Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The 747 is one of the most accomplished and reliable aircraft ever built. It has an established track record of supporting a variety of special missions, including the Space Shuttle Enterprise test flight program, NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft program, the Pratt and Whitney flying testbed, and flight test of the X-45 'Phantom Ray.' The LauncherOne team described additional qualities that make the 747 ideal for the orbital launch platform mission: the aircraft's large and robust rocket carrying capacity, operational flexibility, long range, ability to operate in many kinds of weather, as well as years of existing 747-400 experience, maintenance, and spare parts supply chains. The carrier aircraft can also be deployed from any runway capable of 747 operations.

Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson: "The Boeing 747 has a very special place in my heart: we began service on my first airline, Virgin Atlantic, with just one leased 747. I never imagined that today one of our 747s would get a second chance and help open access to space. I'm absolutely thrilled that Cosmic Girl can stay in the Virgin family -- and truly live up to her name!"

The LauncherOne rocket will be mounted to the carrier aircraft under the left wing, adjacent to the position that has been used by other 747s to ferry a fifth engine. Initial inspections and tests of Cosmic Girl have already been completed and, prior to the start of the wing modification, a regularly scheduled maintenance check will be conducted by VT San Antonio Aerospace. A maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) organization, VT San Antonio Aerospace has over the years re-delivered more than 3,000 aircraft.

Virgin Galactic President Steve Isakowitz said, "2015 has been a year of incredible progress. Our LauncherOne team moved into a 150,000 square foot facility for design and manufacturing, grew to more than 150 dedicated staff, completed multiple long-duration hot fires of our liquid rocket engines, doubled the L1 payload capacity, and welcomed two game-changing customers from both new space and government, OneWeb and NASA. And now we have one of the world's most trusted airplanes to serve as our fully reusable launch platform. With a dedicated air launch vehicle for LauncherOne, and WhiteKnightTwo dedicated specifically to SpaceShipTwo,we look forward to another year of hard work and achievements ahead."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38579
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-02-2017 08:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic release
Virgin Galactic Announces New Commercial Space Company 'Virgin Orbit,' featuring LauncherOne Small Satellite Launch Service

Dan Hart, Former Boeing Executive, Appointed President of Virgin Orbit

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic are pleased to announce Virgin Orbit, a new commercial space company, and the appointment of Dan Hart as the first President of the newly created company. Virgin Orbit will offer flexible, routine and low cost launch services for small satellites via the LauncherOne system. Virgin Orbit's activities were previously conducted as a division of Virgin Galactic.

Dan Hart joins Virgin Orbit after a distinguished 34 years at Boeing, where he was responsible for all of the company's satellite programs for the US government and several allied countries. As Boeing's Vice President of Government Satellite Systems, he led efforts in all phases of the aerospace product life cycle, from R&D through development, production and flight operations, and has supported numerous space launch missions across human spaceflight, satellite development, launch vehicle development, and missile defense.

Virgin Orbit is headquartered in a state-of-the-art 180,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California, and employs a world class team of more than 200 experienced aerospace professionals. Its vehicles include the LauncherOne rocket and its 747-400 flying launch pad, dubbed Cosmic Girl. The LauncherOne service already has a substantial order book, including both commercial and government customers.

Virgin Orbit is the third company in Virgin Group's commercial space portfolio, Galactic Ventures, led by CEO George T. Whitesides and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS. The three companies are developing world-leading aerospace products and services in the following categories, each contributing to their shared vision of opening space to change the world for good.

  • Virgin Orbit: small satellite launch services, headquartered in Long Beach, CA.

  • Virgin Galactic: human spaceflight, based in Mojave, CA during flight test and commercial service in New Mexico's Spaceport America.

  • The Spaceship Company: design, manufacturing, and testing of aerospace vehicles. Headquartered in Mojave, CA.
The announcements come as the LauncherOne small satellite launch system is in advanced phase of hardware testing for every subsystem and major component of the vehicle-having already conducted long duration, full thrust firings of both of LauncherOne's engines, cryogenic tank tests, and hardware-in-the-loop testing of the vehicle's avionics.

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson: "It has been my longheld dream to open access to space to change the world for good. We have been striving to do that by manufacturing vehicles of the future, enabling the small satellite revolution, and preparing commercial space flight for many more humans to reach space and see our home planet. I'm thrilled that our small satellite launch service has now progressed to the point it merits the formation of its own company, Virgin Orbit, and a new president in Dan with decades of deep experience and success in a broad variety of space programs."

Galactic Ventures CEO George T. Whitesides: "Virgin Orbit will lead the world in responsive, affordable, dedicated launch for small satellites. Our new organizational structure positions each Virgin space company to achieve its full potential while remaining true to our shared purpose of opening space to all. It is a testament to the Virgin Orbit team that we start this chapter with our newest space company led by an exceptional individual like Dan."

Virgin Orbit President Dan Hart: "The Virgin Galactic team has been boldly blazing the trail in a rapidly evolving space industry and I am thrilled to join the team. In 34 years at Boeing, I've had the honor to work on some of the most iconic and successful space programs in history including the Space Shuttle, the Delta launch program and satellite systems that have connected the world and protected our nation. Along the way, I've been privileged to work alongside incredibly talented engineers and industry leaders who have contributed to my own approach to innovation in space systems. The perfect next challenge is to lead Virgin Orbit's entrepreneurial team through a transformative time for not only Virgin Orbit but also the industry. To me, the Virgin brand is about making life on Earth better, and we are going to fulfill that purpose by accessing Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to connect billions of people and enabling valuable applications of data from space through Virgin Orbit's flexible, affordable, and reliable launch service."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38579
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-01-2017 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Orbit release
Welcome home, Cosmic Girl!

Virgin Orbit's 747-400 rocket launch platform lands in Long Beach Airport

Virgin Orbit employees and customers welcomed home Cosmic Girl, the 747-400 rocket launch platform that will soon launch small satellites to orbit. They were joined by Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, city councilmembers and Long Beach Airport officials who greeted Cosmic Girl and flight crew with a champagne toast and water canon salute. The 747-400 was crewed by Cosmic Girl's chief pilot Kelly Latimer and co-pilot Richard Nelson.

"Long Beach has long been the home of aerospace innovation, and we are thrilled that after months of significant modification work, Cosmic Girl, our first stage to orbit, is finally home," said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. "Virgin Orbit is in the home stretch of integrating our LauncherOne rocket and ground systems for launch and to support our customers' missions. Thanks to the support of the City of Long Beach and the Long Beach Airport, we employ and partner with some of the most talented aviation and aerospace engineers and technicians in the country. We look forward to keeping Long Beach's aerospace heritage vibrant and enabling our customers to achieve space access."

Virgin Orbit has been headquartered in Long Beach since 2015 when it moved into a 180,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Cosmic Girl's homecoming into Long Beach Airport marked the end of the inspection and modification phase conducted with Virgin Orbit's aircraft modification partner L3 Platform Integration and maintenance partner VT Aerospace. The FAA issued Cosmic Girl an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate, permitting flight tests to commence. Launches will occur in Mojave Air and Space Port.

"It has been amazing to watch Cosmic Girl transform from a commercial airliner to a flying launchpad. We are excited to begin our flight test program and continue towards our vision of launching anyone, anywhere, any time," said Virgin Orbit Vice President of Launch Tim Buzza.

Virgin Orbit's unique air launch platform frees small satellite customers from fixed ground infrastructure, traffic jams on the ranges, and unfavorable weather conditions. Cosmic Girl will carry the LauncherOne rocket to at an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before release for its rocket-powered flight to orbit. The 747-400 aircraft has many attributes that contribute to the ideal dedicated ride for small satellites: the aircraft's large and robust rocket carrying capacity, operational flexibility, long range, ability to operate in many kinds of weather, and existing 747-400 experience, maintenance, and spare parts supply chains.

Virgin Orbit designs, builds and tests LauncherOne inhouse and is at the forefront of composite structures, liquid rocket engines, ultra-responsive launch systems, ruggedized avionics and optimized flight software, automated flight safety systems, and advanced manufacturing techniques. The synergy of these technologies enables unparalleled responsiveness to commercial and government small satellite markets. LauncherOne is capable of delivering 300 kilograms to a 500 kilometer Sun-Synchronous Orbit. The first flight is scheduled to occur in the first half of 2018.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38579
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-05-2018 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Orbit video release
2017 was a big year for us. It's the year we became our own company (March 2017) with a logo, vision, and values of our own. It's a year we grew our superstar team quickly, adding women and men from a wide range of industries and backgrounds. It's a year we sold a lot of launches to space. And above all, it's a year we conducted lots and lots of testing — of every part of our dedicated small satellite launch service.

We're pretty proud of what we accomplished in 2017. But get this: 2018 is going to be even bigger, even more challenging, even more impressive, and even more fun!

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