Virgin Galactic Announces "LauncherOne" Rocket for Small Satellites
July 13, 2012 5:12 PM
(Source: Virgin Galactic)
Four private companies have paid deposits in order to use the LauncherOne in the future
Virgin Galactic announced its new rocket called the LauncherOne at the Farnborough International Air Show 2012 this week.
, which is the first commercial spaceline, introduced the LauncherOne as a new air-launched rocket that will send small satellites into orbit. The LauncherOne will be a two-stage vehicle that can launch up to 500 pounds into orbit for less than $10 million, which helps Virgin achieve its goal of sending both astronauts and satellites into space for cheap. The rocket will eventually launch from Virgin's WhiteKnightTwo aircraft.
"Virgin Galactic's goal is to revolutionize the way we get to space," said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. "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."
In addition to the announcement of the LauncherOne, Branson also noted that four new private companies have paid deposits in order to use the LauncherOne in the future. The companies plan to purchase "several dozen launches."
Also, Branson announced that Virgin is accepting deposits for suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo. So far, a total of 529 people have paid the deposit.
The private space industry has become increasingly important recently, with Virgin Galactic offering affordable spaceflight to the public and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) making history with the launch of its Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2012, which marked the
first private launch
to the orbiting station.
NASA retiring its space shuttle fleet
last year basically put the future of American spaceflight in the hands of the private industry, which seems to be filling the void sufficiently.
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