Virgin Orbit secures Korea contract
August 11, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Sir Richard Branson-backed Virgin Orbit business has won a partnership contract from South Korean investment group, J-Space, to develop a launch site plan, paving the path for expanded space markets and new investor opportunities in South Korea and the surrounding region.
The agreement allows the companies to assess candidate spaceport launch sites in South Korea, with the goal of providing satellite launch services from there using Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne System.
The company says the cooperative effort is designed to act as a catalyst to the burgeoning Korean small satellite and space solutions market, stimulate local economic growth, and provide the South Korean government with a flexible and responsive launch capability in support of a wide range of mission applications.
“In pursuing its mission to transform the space industry in South Korea, J-Space looks to leverage Virgin Orbit’s unique mobile launch system and its capability to offer nations a turnkey small satellite launch capability that can quickly become fully operational, thereby satisfying commercial, civil government, and defense requirements,” said a company statement.
The partnership says it will focus its initial efforts on linking with local South Korean high-tech industries and formulating end-to-end mission solutions that will benefit the nation and broader region. The partners aim to develop a roadmap that will result in launch site identification and operations, delineate specific investor and business objectives, and identify key partners in the region. The roadmap will seek to lay out the steps required to enable the first flights of LauncherOne to occur from South Korea in as little as 12 -18 months.
“We are pleased to enter into this exclusive agreement with J-Space to provide launch operations and space services for the South Korean market,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “The Korean space industry has made huge strides in the past few years both in the commercial and government sectors, with the South Korean government increasing its space budget by over twenty percent in the past year alone. We are excited by the growth and partnership opportunities in the region that could include industrial base participation in South Korea and look forward to working with the visionary team at J-Space to expedite a flexible launch solution from the Korean peninsula in the near-future.”
Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747-400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit to operate from locations all over the world.