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Virgin Galactic Close to Doubles LauncherOne Payload Performance

By Caleb Henry | September 15, 2015
      LauncherOne Virgin Galactic

      LauncherOne in space. Photo: Virgin Galactic

      [Via Satellite 09-15-2015] Virgin Galactic has nearly doubled the amount of payload its LauncherOne can deliver to Low Earth Orbit. The company is offering missions with the air-launched vehicle to lift 200 kg to a standard Sun-synchronous orbit, for less than $10 million, and to lower LEO orbits. The system will be capable of launching more than 400 kg of payload.

      Virgin Galactic increased LauncherOne’s performance by increasing the tank sizing of the rocket, enabling the company to maintain schedule and launch price. Full, private funding is already committed to the program, which has been underway for several months. Virgin Galactic said demand for these changes came from commercial and government customers. Earlier this year the company signed a large contract with OneWeb for 39 satellite launches, with options for 100 additional launches.

      Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of acquiring a commercial aircraft to add to its air launch fleet, which includes WhiteKnightTwo, enabling both the increased payload capacity and significantly higher flight rate. The company expects to finalize the acquisition in the coming months.