Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne to join Spaceflight’s growing portfolio of launch vehicles for small satellite rideshare
(25 June 2018 - Spaceflight) Spaceflight, the company reinventing the model for launching small satellites into space, and Virgin Orbit today announced they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a mission to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in 2019.
Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft, will carry LauncherOne (courtesy: Virgin Orbit)
Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft, will carry LauncherOne (which will house Spaceflight’s customer smallsats) to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before release for its rocket-powered flight to orbit. The two-stage expendable rocket, which is currently in the final stages of qualification, can place about 300-500 kilograms into orbit. Virgin Orbit aims to conduct multiple missions to LEO in 2018.
Spaceflight has launched more than 140 satellites to date from a variety of launch vehicles including Falcon 9, PSLV, Dnepr, Antares, and Soyuz. It recently announced agreements for launches on Electron, Vega, and now LauncherOne.
“We’re continuing to provide the most options for customers to get their spacecraft into orbits that traditional rideshare cannot service,” said Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight. “LauncherOne offers timely and targeted access to the equator and mid-latitudes, and we’re excited to provide this innovative service to our customers via this partnership with Virgin Orbit.”
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart added: “Spaceflight brings a proven track record of launch success, a vibrant international customer base, and a customer-centric approach to put together missions to LEO, GTO, GEO and beyond. This agreement further propels the smallsat revolution and gets us closer to realizing our vision of launching anyone, anywhere, any time.”
Spaceflight is revolutionizing the business of spaceflight by delivering a new model for accessing space. A comprehensive launch services and mission management provider, the company provides a straightforward and cost-effective suite of products and services including state-of-the-art satellite infrastructure and rideshare launch offerings that enable commercial and government entities to achieve their mission goals on time and on budget. A service offering of Spaceflight Industries in Seattle, Wash., Spaceflight provides its services through a global network of partners, ground stations and launch vehicle providers.
About Virgin Orbit
Virgin Orbit provides dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. Virgin Orbit is developing LauncherOne, a flexible launch service for commercial and government-built satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, Calif., and will be air-launched from a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft capable of operating from many locations in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Virgin Orbit’s systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon.