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Virgin Galactic LauncherOne, 747 platform (updates)

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Draggendrop    5,175

With the platform change to the 747, I thought that I would start a new thread since progress is being made and new customers announced.

 

Just a bit of "catch up" first...from 4th of December, 2015

 

Virgin Galactic Acquires Boeing 747 for LauncherOne Missions 

 

laucnherone-747-879x485.jpg

Using a Boeing 747 as the launch platform for LauncherOne will allow Virgin Galactic to double the vehicle's payload performance, increasing the size of the market it can serve, according to company officials. Credit: Virgin Galactic 

 

Quote

MELBOURNE, Fla. — Virgin Galactic announced Dec. 3 that it has purchased a Boeing 747 jetliner to serve as the new carrier aircraft for its LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle.

 

The aircraft, unveiled during an event at the San Antonio, Texas, facility where the plane is being modified, will allow LauncherOne to carry heavier payloads than if it was launched from the company’s WhiteKnightTwo airplane, as originally planned.

 

“We basically wanted to maximize the productive capacity of the Newton engines we were developing” for LauncherOne, said George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, in a Dec. 3 phone interview. The company studied how big they could make LauncherOne if not constrained by how much WhiteKnightTwo could carry, then looked at what aircraft could handle that vehicle.

 

The company concluded the 747 was the best choice for carrying the enlarged LauncherOne. Whitesides said the company then did “a very comprehensive survey of the entire commercial aircraft market,” looking for used 747 aircraft with the best combination of cost, flight history and maintenance record.

 

That search ended up, ironically, with another Virgin company: the airline Virgin Atlantic. “Somewhat to our surprise, the answer was ‘Cosmic Girl,’” Whitesides said, referring to the airplane’s nickname. “It was a relatively young aircraft operated by Virgin Atlantic, and we had a lot of comfort in its maintenance.” Whitesides said Virgin Galactic purchased the plane from Virgin Atlantic, but did not disclose the terms of the deal.

 

Cosmic Girl was built by Boeing in 2001 and delivered to Virgin Atlantic. The aircraft was in commercial service with the airline as recently as October, according to online flight records. The plane last flew Oct. 29, when it traveled from London to San Antonio.

 

Quote

LauncherOne will be attached to a pylon mounted on the left wing of the 747, between the fuselage and the left inboard engine. That location was included on the 747 to mount a fifth jet engine when ferrying engines, minimizing the structural modifications needed to the wing.

The decision to increase the size of LauncherOne and fly it from a 747 is a departure from the company’s original plans, which called for using the same WhiteKnightTwo airplane that Scaled Composites developed for Virgin Galactic for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane. WhiteKnightTwo will now be used exclusively for SpaceShipTwo missions.

The more powerful LauncherOne will be able to carry payloads up to 200 kilograms to sun-synchronous orbits, and up to 400 kilograms to other orbits. That increase in performance allows LauncherOne to accommodate a wider range of satellites.

 

“We’re having a lot of conversations” with potential customers, Whitesides said. Besides the June contract for 39 launches of communications satellites for OneWeb and an October contract with NASA as part of the agency’s Venture Class Launch Services program, he said Virgin Galactic has signed a couple more contracts with undisclosed customers. “I think we’ll have more and more business as we get closer to our test launches,” he said.

http://spacenews.com/virgin-galactic-acquires-boeing-747-for-launcherone-missions/

 

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Virgin Galactic NewtonThree Engine 90 second Hotfire, October 2015

video is 1:48 min.

 

 

 

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CosmicGirlAtL3-1024x798.jpg

 

http://www.virgingalactic.com/

 

https://twitter.com/virgingalactic

 

https://www.instagram.com/virgingalactic/

 

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Latest news on customers...

 

Virgin Galactic Announces Sky and Space Global as Newest LauncherOne Customer

 

Quote

PARIS, September 12, 2016 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Commercial spaceline Virgin Galactic announced today that global communications company Sky and Space Global (ASX:SAS) has signed a binding launch services agreement to purchase four dedicated missions on the LauncherOne system. Speaking at the World Satellite Business Week event in Paris, officials from the two companies revealed that these flights will enable the deployment of Sky and Space Global’s initial constellation. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.


Virgin Galactic also announced the capability to fly LauncherOne from low latitudes, allowing customers to maximize the amount of payload delivered to low inclination orbit, including equatorial orbits. Typically, ground-based launch vehicles must expend significant amounts of performance to deliver spacecraft to inclinations well away from the latitude of the launch site. By contrast, as an air-launched system, LauncherOne can optimize each mission to customer requirements by operating from a variety of launch locations—including launching the rocket from above or near the equator in order to most efficiently and cost-effectively insert satellites into low inclination orbits.

 

Sky and Space Global’s flights are the first announced LauncherOne missions planned to fly from low latitudes, allowing Sky and Space Global to maximize the amount of payload delivered to a low inclination orbit. Previously disclosed LauncherOne contracts, including flights for OneWeb and NASA, are designed to fly to higher inclination orbits.

 

Each of the four launches purchased by Sky and Space Global will be used to carry multiple satellites, which will rapidly establish the company’s innovative communication system infrastructure and service. The flights are expected to begin in 2018.

 

Quote

The fully-funded LauncherOne program is currently in advanced phase of hardware testing for every subsystem and major component of the vehicle. With hundreds of millions of dollars of launches already under contract, Virgin Galactic has established a state-of-the-art 150,000 square foot manufacturing shop in Long Beach, California, with a team of more than 200 experienced aerospace professionals currently preparing the system for its first test flights.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2016/09/12/virgin-galactic-announces-sky-space-global-newest-launcherone-customer/

 

:)

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Unobscured Vision    2,435

Hotfire tests are like pressing the Muffin Button for me. :yes: 

 

f0e8bc4e558ca6f8acbaf0f2fa0c6067902d1919

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Draggendrop    5,175

Virgin Galactic signs Sky and Space Global to four-launch deal 

 

Image-VIRGIN-GALACTIC-ANNOUNCES-SKY-AND-

Meir Moalem, CEO and Founder of Sky and Space Global and George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic pose in front of a LauncherOne model at the World Satellite Business Week Conference in Paris. Credit: Virgin Galactic 

 

Quote

PARIS — Virgin Galactic announced a contract for four launches of satellites for a planned communications constellation.

 

The contract, with Australian company Sky and Space Global, covers launches of multiple satellites on each of four LauncherOne missions.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Virgin Galactic has previously offered LauncherOne missions for less than $10 million each.

 

The launches will be the first LauncherOne missions to go into low-inclination orbits, with the rocket’s carrier aircraft, a Boeing 747, taking off from an airport not disclosed in the announcement.

 

“Having a 747 as our flying launch site means that LauncherOne can tailor each mission to suit each customer,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said We’ve seen an enormous level of commercial and governmental interest in launches that can reach equatorial orbits without having to pay the large performance penalty associated with transfer orbits. We’re very excited to have this agreement in place now with a great company like Sky and Space Global to deliver their satellites to orbit reliably, affordably, and flexibly.”

 

“We are thrilled to partner with Virgin Galactic on our exciting missions and LauncherOne’s first low inclination launches”  Sky and Space Global CEO Meir Moalem said in a statement. “Just as we value purposeful innovation and customer service, Virgin Galactic shares our values and our vision for how communication can fundamentally improve lives.  We have an ideal partner in Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne and its operational flexibility and are excited to work together to change the world for good.”

http://spacenews.com/virgin-galactic-signs-sky-and-space-global-to-four-launch-deal/

 

of note....

 

"LauncherOne’s first low inclination launches"

 

They are a willing customer...this is real good to see, reminds me of SES for SpaceX.

 

:)

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Draggendrop    5,175

 

 

 

KSAT enters agreement with Virgin Galactic for LauncherOne

 

Quote

Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) and Virgin Galactic have recently entered into a multi-year
agreement for the provision of KSAT’s Ground Station Services for the LauncherOne small satellite
launch service. KSAT will provide telemetry downlink services and contribute to the successful
operation of the innovative LauncherOne orbital small satellite launch system. KSAT will provide to
Virgin Galactic the service from its global network of ground stations, enabling support of launches
from a wide variety of launch locations and to all inclinations.


The integration of LauncherOne-specific support equipment at the KSAT ground stations has already
commenced, with the Antarctic station being the first to be configured to receive signals from the
LauncherOne vehicle. Hardware to support Virgin Galactic launches to high inclinations is already
installed at the Antarctic station.

 

“We are very pleased to be entrusted with providing mission critical tracking services for
LauncherOne flights, and in this way contribute to the success of the most innovative launcher
development. The agreement further strengthens our position as the leading NewSpace Ground
Station Service provider,” says KSAT CEO Rolf Skatteboe.

 

Within the scope of the agreement, KSAT will also provide LauncherOne tracking from a new ground
station located in Long Beach, California, which is home to the LauncherOne program. Though
LauncherOne mission support will have priority access, this new antenna will also be available for use
by existing and future satellite constellations, further expanding the capacity and global footprint of
the “KSAT lite” NewSpace Ground Station Network.

 

George T. Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic stated: “KSAT has already proven its expertise and
solidified its role as a key asset within the NewSpace community. Because LauncherOne makes use of
a 747 as a ‘flying launch site’ capable of conducting missions from any spaceport with an adequate
runway, it was critical for us to secure access to an excellent network of ground stations without
making an investment into our own global network. We look forward to using the established KSAT
ground station network to receive telemetry during our missions”.

Source

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Unobscured Vision    2,435

That's awesome. Commerce will get VG up to speed like it has with SpaceX. More of this, please. :yes: 

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Draggendrop    5,175

 

 

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Draggendrop    5,175

 

Name Change

 

Welcome, Virgin Orbit!

 

Quote

Effective today, our family of space companies numbers three. As with before, Virgin Galactic will be our commercial human spaceflight services provider and The Spaceship Company will continue to offer design, manufacturing and testing services to build vehicles for Virgin Galactic. And our small satellite LauncherOne team will become our newest company: Virgin Orbit.

full article here...

http://www.virgingalactic.com/welcome-virgin-orbit/

 

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Draggendrop    5,175

 

 

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Draggendrop    5,175

misc goodies...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:)

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DocM    14,419
Posted (edited)

FAA just issued a launch license for later his summer.

 

Like Pegasus, but far cheaper and with a much quicker launch cadence. They're making their own engine series in multiple sizes, the Newton.

 

http://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-gears-up-for-captive-carry-test-flight/

 

Quote


Virgin Orbit gears up for captive carry test flight

RENTON, Wash.  Virgin Orbit is planning a key test of its LauncherOne system as soon as next week, a final step before the vehicles first launch later this summer.

In a speech at the NewSpace 2018 Conference here June 27, Stephen Eisele, vice president of business development of Virgin Orbit, said that company was gearing up for a captive carry test of its air-launch rocket, flown on a customized Boeing 747.

Were going to be doing our next major milestone in probably a little over a week, which is going to be a captive carry test, he said. On that test, the 747 will take off with the LauncherOne rocket attached to its wing, but not launched.

That flight, he said, will gather flutter and aerodynamics testing data. The next test after that is the first orbital flight.

Workers will be attaching the pylon that holds LauncherOne to the aircrafts left wing in the next few days, he said. If everything goes well there, well conduct our first captive carry test, he said. The flight will take place from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Only a single captive carry flight is currently scheduled, he said, but added it doesnt preclude us from doing another if needed. That test will also include demonstrating the deployment mechanism, releasing the inert LauncherOne test article to drop back to Earth.

If that flight is a success, Eisele said the company would be ready to conduct its first orbital test of LauncherOne later this summer. 
>

 

CONCEPT
Sky%20and%20Space%20-%205%20Oct%2016%20-

 

LauncherOne
launcherone-test-768x424.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by DocM
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