Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic proposed scheme to launch space satellites has had a boost.
Virgin Galactic’s CEO George Whitesides said the aim is now to use the ‘space plane’ Launcher One craft to place smallish satellites of up to 200 kgs into Low Earth Orbit. The new design sees an extended propellant tank (from 15m to 20m in length), needed to carry the craft to a higher flight-path.
Virgin Galactic has a confirmed customer for its satellite cargo bay in the shape of OneWeb, a proposed super-constellation of some 650 satellites. Branson is an investor in OneWeb.
“What Virgin Galactic is offering us now is the capability of two satellites per launch, just below the operational orbit, but that extra performance means we could also take one satellite directly into the operational orbit, which is interesting to us if we have a failure and need a rapid replacement,” explained OneWeb’s CTO Brian Holz.