Virgin Galactic Reveals New Satellite Launcher
Rendering of Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne, announced Wednesday at Farnborough.
July 12, 2012 - Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson announced Wednesday the LauncherOne, a new air-launched rocket for delivering small satellites into orbit. Commercial flights of this new orbital launch vehicle are expected to begin by 2016, he announced at the 2012 Farnborough International Air Show outside London.
The goal is to offer frequent and dedicated launches at the world's lowest price - less than $10 million - with the two-stage vehicle capable of carrying up to 500 pounds.
"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," Branson said. "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."
Substantial private funding has already been raised for the launcher, and the space line has announced that four other companies have already put down deposits as future LauncherOne customers, which exceeds the level of commitment of any of their previous vehicle launch models. Potential customers include companies Skybox Imaging, GeoOptics Inc., and Spaceflight Inc.
Due to the flexibility of this new launcher, VG customers will receive reduced infrastructure costs and a wide range of potential launch locations adjustable for individual mission requirements and weather conditions.
Branson also announced that the company has accepted deposits for suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo from 529 future astronauts, which is more than the total number of people who have ever traveled to space throughout history.
For more information, visit Virgin Galactic's website.