Virgin Galactic Opens New Facility to Increase LauncherOne Rocket Production
[Via Satellite 02-13-2015] Boosted by its contract to launch satellites for OneWeb’s ambitious 648 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) telecommunications satellite constellation, Virgin Galactic has opened a new facility to increase the production of LauncherOne rockets. The facility is located at Long Beach Airport in California, where it can be flown along with customers’ satellites using the reusable WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.
“The technical progress our team has made designing and testing LauncherOne has enabled a move into a dedicated facility to produce the rocket at quantity,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “With New Mexico’s magnificent Spaceport America for our commercial spaceflight operations, our Mojave facilities for WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo production, and now our new facility in Long Beach for LauncherOne, we are building capability to serve our expanding customer community.”
LauncherOne, a two-stage orbital launch vehicle, is designed to launch small satellites weighing up to 225 kilograms (500 pounds). Slated for a first launch in 2016, Virgin Galactic’s customers for the air-launch system include Skybox Imaging, GeoOptics, Planetary Resources and Spaceflight Inc.