Author Topic: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future  (Read 38818 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Feature article on LauncherOne via quotes from William Pomerantz, Vice President, Special Projects at Virgin Galactic speaking at the SpaceTech Expo, via video captured by Derrick Stamos.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/06/virgin-galactic-prepare-busy-launcherone-future/

Spent a fair amount of time to write down most of what he said, so it's a bit long, but we don't cover this sort of thing every week like SpaceX or SLS, etc. I was sold listening to him, so it was worth an article.

Slide photos via Derrick and used some of Nate Moeller's photos (for astro95media and NSF) photos from the Cosmic Girl event. Attaching two slides that aren't amazingly easy to read in the article:

Offline Longhorn John

  • Regular
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1467
  • Liked: 13
  • Likes Given: 31
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #1 on: 06/30/2016 01:39 PM »
I'm sold too. That was a great read and this could really work out well for them.

Offline KEdward5

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 802
  • Dallas, TX
  • Liked: 25
  • Likes Given: 46
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #2 on: 06/30/2016 02:17 PM »
A really interesting and informative read. And William Pomerantz retweeted it, so he must have liked it too!

I hope they provide live coverage of the test launch!

Offline abaddon

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1430
  • Liked: 878
  • Likes Given: 700
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #3 on: 06/30/2016 02:27 PM »
What a strange idea, to focus on the rocket and then get a COTS aircraft, as opposed to building a custom aircraft without anything to launch with it...

With that OneWeb contract and a straightforward no-nonsense plan they seem pretty well-positioned to succeed in this space if anyone can.
« Last Edit: 06/30/2016 02:28 PM by abaddon »

Offline Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3886
  • Liked: 1212
  • Likes Given: 1037
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #4 on: 06/30/2016 02:52 PM »
Interesting but not convincing, IMHO.

LOX on an air-launched system is interesting, as is the "linerless composite tanks" for said LOX. 

It is not clear why they want to launch from both east and west coasts.   The 747 should be able to fly far enough off the east coast to launch polar / sun-synchronous missions from the same place as their low inclination orbits. (I don't think the term "equatorial" is correct.)  The 747 can "self ferry" pretty easily but why maintain two facilities?  They could even fly it to the Gulf of Mexico to launch low inclination orbit from a west coast base. 

It is also curious that they specify 50 miles off shore.  That would give up one of the major advantages of air launch.  Besides the ability to launch into polar orbits from the east coast, they could do things like fix the time of day of the launch and fly to the appropriate longitude, rather than wait for the target orbit to pass over a fixed base.

It is also interesting that the second stage and payload faring are both of slightly less diameter than the first stage. Apparently they don't agree with the advantages others see in keeping a single diameter for commonality.

The two figures disagree. One has little wings.  The other has tail fins.  Neither look like other air launch concepts.

The discussion of SS2 is also curious.  It almost sounds like this part of the company is running away from SS2 and WK2.  They don't seem to share anything except name and owner.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline abaddon

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1430
  • Liked: 878
  • Likes Given: 700
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #5 on: 06/30/2016 03:09 PM »
The discussion of SS2 is also curious.  It almost sounds like this part of the company is running away from SS2 and WK2.  They don't seem to share anything except name and owner.
Doesn't seem curious to me at all, really, when you consider SS2 and WK2 were designed and developed out-of-house, and with all of the problems that have been attached to that project.
« Last Edit: 06/30/2016 03:11 PM by abaddon »

Offline Seattle Dave

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 958
  • Liked: 19
  • Likes Given: 15
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #6 on: 06/30/2016 04:25 PM »
They are a lot further along than Stratolaunch, that we can be sure.

Offline Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3886
  • Liked: 1212
  • Likes Given: 1037
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #7 on: 06/30/2016 10:17 PM »
They are a lot further along than Stratolaunch, that we can be sure.

That's faint praise. ;)
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6020
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1993
  • Likes Given: 681
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #8 on: 07/01/2016 04:31 AM »
Great article! I think a lot of people are overly pessimistic about Launcher One because of VGs challenges with SS2. They have a good team, good funding, and a fair amount of momentum behind them. And frankly, they're not really that far behind where SpaceX was at a comparable point in their orbital launch development timeline (4yrs in).

I'm a bit biased because I know Will and the Launcher One Chief Engineer Kevin Sagis from my NGLLC days, but I'm rooting for them.

~Jon

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2685
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 529
  • Likes Given: 896
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #9 on: 07/01/2016 02:52 PM »
Interesting read and it's exciting to see another stragety with resources behind it.

Anyone willing to speculate on whether the N3 and N4 engines have turbo pumps or are pressure fed?

N4 at 5000 lbf would likely seem pressure fed.
Excited to be finally into the first Falcon Heavy flow, we are getting so close!

Offline Kabloona

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4025
  • Velocitas Eradico
  • Fortress of Solitude
  • Liked: 2203
  • Likes Given: 445
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #10 on: 07/01/2016 02:57 PM »
Interesting read and it's exciting to see another stragety with resources behind it.

Anyone willing to speculate on whether the N3 and N4 engines have turbo pumps or are pressure fed?

N4 at 5000 lbf would likely seem pressure fed.

No need to speculate. The graphic above says pump-fed for both engines.

Offline Kryten

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 484
  • Liked: 213
  • Likes Given: 25
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #11 on: 07/01/2016 02:59 PM »
Slide photos via Derrick and used some of Nate Moeller's photos (for astro95media and NSF) photos from the Cosmic Girl event. Attaching two slides that aren't amazingly easy to read in the article:
Both of these slides are taken from VG's service guide for LauncherOne (attached).

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2685
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 529
  • Likes Given: 896
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #12 on: 07/01/2016 04:01 PM »
Interesting read and it's exciting to see another stragety with resources behind it.

Anyone willing to speculate on whether the N3 and N4 engines have turbo pumps or are pressure fed?

N4 at 5000 lbf would likely seem pressure fed.

No need to speculate. The graphic above says pump-fed for both engines.

Thanks, I need to stop reading on my old iphone.

Edit: That N4 turbo pump must be just the cutest thing, like a kitten or puppy.
« Last Edit: 07/01/2016 04:02 PM by wannamoonbase »
Excited to be finally into the first Falcon Heavy flow, we are getting so close!

Offline abaddon

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1430
  • Liked: 878
  • Likes Given: 700
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #13 on: 07/01/2016 04:55 PM »
Boy, that video clip was 90's supercar porn - Ferrari Testarossa, F-40, and Lamborghini Diablo. 1500 hp !
That's actually a Berlinetta, I think.  The F-40 is an 80's car, the F-50 was the 90's version.  But that does appear to be an F-40 (which was the superior of the two in most people's minds).

Sorry for the off-topic, getting back to rockets...

Offline starchasercowboy

  • Member
  • Posts: 28
  • Liked: 26
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #14 on: 07/03/2016 05:57 PM »
Does anyone know the weight of Launcherone?  Seems to me the extra weight on the port side will have to be compensated for.  When Pegasus flew on B52 they could transfer fuel according to Antonio Elias. Quote
"We didn't just inspect the B-52, we flew 6 mission with it! (I was the LPO on missions 1 and 4)

B-52 s/n 0008 (good ol' "balls 8") had a large fuselage tank on the centerline as well as tanks on the the wings (but no tip tanks like later B-52 versions).  Pegasus was hung from the pylon on the starboard (right) wing.

After towing the Pegasus-carrying trailer under the wing, but before attaching the rocket, we transfered fuel to the starboard wing tanks to lower the starboard wing.

We then raised the trailer a bit and attached Pegasus to the pylon.

Next, we transfered fuel to the port side to lift the Pegasus up from the trailer (we also lowered the trailer bed.)

We then took off with more fuel on the port side to balance the Pegasus on the starboard side, making the B-52 weight-symmetric at takeoff.

Before drop, we transfered fuel to the starboard side to make the aircraft heavy on the rocket side by about ONE HALF THE ROCKET WEIGHT.

When the rocket was dropped, the aircraft became instantly port-heavy by the same amount (on-half the rocket weight).  The lateral aerodynamics of the B-52 were more than sufficient to handle these asymmetries.   Also, the left-turning tendency was used by the pilot to acheive lateral separation from the release flight path.

Before landing, the fuel was equalized so, again, the aircraft was weight-symmetrical."

I don't think there has ever been a large weighted object ever ejected off the wing of a 747.

Offline Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3886
  • Liked: 1212
  • Likes Given: 1037
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #15 on: 07/03/2016 07:15 PM »
Slide photos via Derrick and used some of Nate Moeller's photos (for astro95media and NSF) photos from the Cosmic Girl event. Attaching two slides that aren't amazingly easy to read in the article:
Both of these slides are taken from VG's service guide for LauncherOne (attached).

Curiously on slide 3 this presentation lists launch sites as the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC, Mojave Air and Space Port, and NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
Why Wallops?
The only orbits unique to Wallops are 55 to 60 degrees.
What prevents the 747 from flying eastward from KSC to where a 60 degree inclination launch doesn't overfly land?
Or far enough west from Mojave to reach 55 deg?
And again, they exclude polar orbits from the East coast, even though the 747 could fly out far enough over the Atlantic.
There are also no inclinations below 28.5 degrees, (KSC) even though Cosmic Girl should be able to fly southward.
All in all, this seems to ignore one of the big advantages or air launching, launch location flexibility.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline mfck

  • Office Plankton Representative
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 525
  • Israel
  • Liked: 236
  • Likes Given: 109
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #16 on: 07/03/2016 09:44 PM »
Slide photos via Derrick and used some of Nate Moeller's photos (for astro95media and NSF) photos from the Cosmic Girl event. Attaching two slides that aren't amazingly easy to read in the article:
Both of these slides are taken from VG's service guide for LauncherOne (attached).

Curiously on slide 3 this presentation lists launch sites as the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC, Mojave Air and Space Port, and NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
Why Wallops?
The only orbits unique to Wallops are 55 to 60 degrees.
What prevents the 747 from flying eastward from KSC to where a 60 degree inclination launch doesn't overfly land?
Or far enough west from Mojave to reach 55 deg?
And again, they exclude polar orbits from the East coast, even though the 747 could fly out far enough over the Atlantic.
There are also no inclinations below 28.5 degrees, (KSC) even though Cosmic Girl should be able to fly southward.
All in all, this seems to ignore one of the big advantages or air launching, launch location flexibility.
Might that be due to range dependence?

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2777
  • Liked: 530
  • Likes Given: 326
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #17 on: 07/03/2016 10:25 PM »
Might that be due to range dependence?

Likely; some facilities may also factor into it.  Locations and inclinations are very similar to Pegasus (or a subset thereof); from the Pegasus users guide...

Online Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12571
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 2745
  • Likes Given: 410
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #18 on: 07/04/2016 07:49 AM »
All in all, this seems to ignore one of the big advantages or air launching, launch location flexibility.

The further the range, the more fuel the aircraft needs to carry, which lessens the payload that can be dropped. Perhaps there is a maximum range in order to achieve the specified payload.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Nibb31

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 224
  • France
  • Liked: 136
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #19 on: 07/05/2016 01:19 PM »
Launch location is always going to be limited by the number of airports that are both big enough to accomodate a 747 and have LOX/RP1 storage and handling facilities.

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6020
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1993
  • Likes Given: 681
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #20 on: 07/05/2016 05:38 PM »
Launch location is always going to be limited by the number of airports that are both big enough to accomodate a 747 and have LOX/RP1 storage and handling facilities.

The number of airports that can handle a 747 is pretty large. And RP-1 is similar enough to jet fuel that my guess is those accomodations will be pretty easy to come by. LOX is the only even remotely challenging one, and in the sizes they're dealing with can probably be handled by a LOX dewar truck from an industrial gas supplier.

For air-launched LOX/RP-1 rockets in this size class, with this size of mothership, my guess is they could fly out of several dozen airports in the CONUS alone.

~Jon

Offline mfck

  • Office Plankton Representative
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 525
  • Israel
  • Liked: 236
  • Likes Given: 109
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #21 on: 07/05/2016 05:58 PM »
How viable is the possibility that air launch platform can be it's own range support? Is it possible to contain all the needed tracking and comms in a 747?

Offline dwheeler

  • Member
  • Posts: 30
  • USA
  • Liked: 24
  • Likes Given: 74
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #22 on: 07/05/2016 06:40 PM »
Launch location is always going to be limited by the number of airports that are both big enough to accomodate a 747 and have LOX/RP1 storage and handling facilities.

The number of airports that can handle a 747 is pretty large. And RP-1 is similar enough to jet fuel that my guess is those accomodations will be pretty easy to come by. LOX is the only even remotely challenging one, and in the sizes they're dealing with can probably be handled by a LOX dewar truck from an industrial gas supplier.

For air-launched LOX/RP-1 rockets in this size class, with this size of mothership, my guess is they could fly out of several dozen airports in the CONUS alone.

~Jon
I would think the FAA wouldn't allow fully fueled rocket operations at most busy commercial airports... at least not without some pretty stringent restrictions like temporarily shutting down the airport for normal airport operations. It looks like even Pegasus is limited to specific government and/or military airports:

http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/SPA_App/OfferDocuments/SP11215_2011021190.pdf

Quote
(3)  All captive carry operations will originate from Vandenburg AFB; Wallops Flight Facility; Patrick AFB; Cape Canaveral AS; Kennedy Space Center; or the Bucholz Army Air Facility, United States Army Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. To a maximum extent possible, after departing these facilities airspace, in-flight operations involving the L-1011/Pegasus must be conducted over the ocean. Alternate abort landing sites for Vandenburg AFB are Edwards AFB and the Mojave Airport/Spaceport.

Offline Kryten

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 484
  • Liked: 213
  • Likes Given: 25
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #23 on: 07/05/2016 07:40 PM »
I would think the FAA wouldn't allow fully fueled rocket operations at most busy commercial airports... at least not without some pretty stringent restrictions like temporarily shutting down the airport for normal airport operations. It looks like even Pegasus is limited to specific government and/or military airports:

http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/SPA_App/OfferDocuments/SP11215_2011021190.pdf

Quote
(3)  All captive carry operations will originate from Vandenburg AFB; Wallops Flight Facility; Patrick AFB; Cape Canaveral AS; Kennedy Space Center; or the Bucholz Army Air Facility, United States Army Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. To a maximum extent possible, after departing these facilities airspace, in-flight operations involving the L-1011/Pegasus must be conducted over the ocean. Alternate abort landing sites for Vandenburg AFB are Edwards AFB and the Mojave Airport/Spaceport.
How was the launch from the Canaries possible, then? Is that just something they can't do anymore?

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6020
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1993
  • Likes Given: 681
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #24 on: 07/05/2016 07:43 PM »
Launch location is always going to be limited by the number of airports that are both big enough to accomodate a 747 and have LOX/RP1 storage and handling facilities.

The number of airports that can handle a 747 is pretty large. And RP-1 is similar enough to jet fuel that my guess is those accomodations will be pretty easy to come by. LOX is the only even remotely challenging one, and in the sizes they're dealing with can probably be handled by a LOX dewar truck from an industrial gas supplier.

For air-launched LOX/RP-1 rockets in this size class, with this size of mothership, my guess is they could fly out of several dozen airports in the CONUS alone.

~Jon
I would think the FAA wouldn't allow fully fueled rocket operations at most busy commercial airports... at least not without some pretty stringent restrictions like temporarily shutting down the airport for normal airport operations. It looks like even Pegasus is limited to specific government and/or military airports:

I think you're thinking about this wrong. First off, solids by definition have the fuel and oxidizer premixed, and thus have a "quantity distance" associated with them based on past military experience. Quantity distance says "this system is equivalent to this much TNT, and therefore people need to be kept this far back from the system in this configuration". For solids by definition you always have that quantity distance issue, but for liquids, that only really becomes an issue when you have them close enough to each other that you could realistically mix them in a way to create an explosion.

VG has a lot of options in this regard, including not loading both propellants into the vehicle on the ground, or only loading them out on a trim pad away from the main airport. When you have a 747-sized vehicle, fitting tanks inside that are big enough to completely fill one or the other propellant once airborne is probably pretty doable. You likely would want some sort of "top off" tank to compensate for LOX boiloff during flight, and this would just be a bigger version of the same. Or you could load LOX on the ground and transfer RP-1 in flight. Either of those would make the system have a negligible quantity-distance while on the ground. Or as I mentioned, loading one of the propellants only once you're away from other vehicles. Lots of ways of dealing with this, I just think that going off of how Pegasus was handled may not be the best guide for what is possible--especially if they're being smart about things.

~Jon

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2777
  • Liked: 530
  • Likes Given: 326
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #25 on: 07/05/2016 08:06 PM »
I think you're thinking about this wrong. First off, solids by definition have the fuel and oxidizer premixed, and thus have a "quantity distance" associated with them based on past military experience. Quantity distance says "this system is equivalent to this much TNT, and therefore people need to be kept this far back from the system in this configuration". For solids by definition you always have that quantity distance issue, but for liquids, that only really becomes an issue when you have them close enough to each other that you could realistically mix them in a way to create an explosion.

VG has a lot of options in this regard, including not loading both propellants into the vehicle on the ground, or only loading them out on a trim pad away from the main airport. When you have a 747-sized vehicle, fitting tanks inside that are big enough to completely fill one or the other propellant once airborne is probably pretty doable. You likely would want some sort of "top off" tank to compensate for LOX boiloff during flight, and this would just be a bigger version of the same. Or you could load LOX on the ground and transfer RP-1 in flight. Either of those would make the system have a negligible quantity-distance while on the ground. Or as I mentioned, loading one of the propellants only once you're away from other vehicles. Lots of ways of dealing with this, I just think that going off of how Pegasus was handled may not be the best guide for what is possible--especially if they're being smart about things.

Liquid propellants also have FAA storage siting and protection rules (generally based on TNT equivalent).  Whether that storage is in a 747 or on the ground, similar rules would apply.  The rules are covered under FAA CFR 420, License to Operate a Launch Site.  As a launch license covers the time from start of ground operations--which presumably would include such--launch license regulations would also be a consideration.

Presumably VG has already had those conversations with the FAA.

Offline Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3886
  • Liked: 1212
  • Likes Given: 1037
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #26 on: 07/05/2016 08:16 PM »
This discussion is going in the opposite direction from the question at hand.  It's not so much where they take off, but where the launch occurs.

We know that 747s carry large payloads over enormous distances.  It is likely that Cosmic Girl can carry Launcher One well out to sea, but VG says they are not going to do this. The plan is to launch from near the shore in all cases.

They appear to be using the range assets of three USAF or NASA launch ranges, Vandenberg, KSC/CCAFS, and Wallops.

Why?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2777
  • Liked: 530
  • Likes Given: 326
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #27 on: 07/05/2016 09:13 PM »
This discussion is going in the opposite direction from the question at hand.  It's not so much where they take off, but where the launch occurs.

We know that 747s carry large payloads over enormous distances.  It is likely that Cosmic Girl can carry Launcher One well out to sea, but VG says they are not going to do this. The plan is to launch from near the shore in all cases.

They appear to be using the range assets of three USAF or NASA launch ranges, Vandenberg, KSC/CCAFS, and Wallops.

Why?

1. Air space clearance?  May be much more difficult outside of range areas.
2. Surface area clearance?  See (1).
3. Tracking?  Sea Launch required additional tracking assets (e.g., ships, TDRS).[1]
4. Environmental impact?  Sea Launch had to get an environmental assessment for launch site and transit.

[1] edit: I don't know what they actually ended up using.
« Last Edit: 07/05/2016 09:19 PM by joek »

Offline CameronD

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1220
  • Melbourne, Australia
    • Norton Consultants
  • Liked: 391
  • Likes Given: 288
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #28 on: 07/06/2016 12:00 AM »
Liquid propellants also have FAA storage siting and protection rules (generally based on TNT equivalent).  Whether that storage is in a 747 or on the ground, similar rules would apply.  The rules are covered under FAA CFR 420, License to Operate a Launch Site.  As a launch license covers the time from start of ground operations--which presumably would include such--launch license regulations would also be a consideration.

Presumably VG has already had those conversations with the FAA.

It's worth emphasising that storage rules would preclude operations like that from most (certainly busy) commercial airports anywhere in the world.  As it stands now, there are heavy restrictions on where even fully-armed military aircraft are parked at commercial airports, let alone anything carrying a tank of LOX in close proximity to kerosene.  Typically they'd have to find a rarely-used section of taxiway to park on, nowhere near any terminals or commercial operations.

It's also possible import/export regulations on carriage of RP-1 might restrict VG's operations to mainland USA.

« Last Edit: 07/06/2016 01:31 AM by CameronD »
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Online HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1371
  • Liked: 850
  • Likes Given: 264
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #29 on: 07/06/2016 03:25 AM »
Liquid propellants also have FAA storage siting and protection rules (generally based on TNT equivalent).  Whether that storage is in a 747 or on the ground, similar rules would apply.  The rules are covered under FAA CFR 420, License to Operate a Launch Site.  As a launch license covers the time from start of ground operations--which presumably would include such--launch license regulations would also be a consideration.

Presumably VG has already had those conversations with the FAA.

It's worth emphasising that storage rules would preclude operations like that from most (certainly busy) commercial airports anywhere in the world.  As it stands now, there are heavy restrictions on where even fully-armed military aircraft are parked at commercial airports, let alone anything carrying a tank of LOX in close proximity to kerosene.  Typically they'd have to find a rarely-used section of taxiway to park on, nowhere near any terminals or commercial operations.

It's also possible import/export regulations on carriage of RP-1 might restrict VG's operations to mainland USA.



LOX Dewars are fairly routinely flown on C-17s (and of course there is LOX on the aircraft for breathing, too, see loading image below).  The C-17 was designed with LOX cryo vents both port and starboard to permit such operations. 

Offline CameronD

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1220
  • Melbourne, Australia
    • Norton Consultants
  • Liked: 391
  • Likes Given: 288
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #30 on: 07/06/2016 03:31 AM »
LOX Dewars are fairly routinely flown on C-17s (and of course there is LOX on the aircraft for breathing, too, see loading image below).  The C-17 was designed with LOX cryo vents both port and starboard to permit such operations.

Interesting, but my point still stands: a LOX-carrying aircraft is likely to be restricted to flying from military/non-RPT airfields. ..and of course LOX isn't used for breathing air on a 747.
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Offline russianhalo117

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3726
  • AR USA / Berlin, DE / Moscow, RF
  • Liked: 686
  • Likes Given: 433
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #31 on: 07/06/2016 03:40 AM »
LOX Dewars are fairly routinely flown on C-17s (and of course there is LOX on the aircraft for breathing, too, see loading image below).  The C-17 was designed with LOX cryo vents both port and starboard to permit such operations.

Interesting, but my point still stands: a LOX-carrying aircraft is likely to be restricted to flying from military/non-RPT airfields. ..and of course LOX isn't used for breathing air on a 747.

GOX is only used on Commercial Aircraft. Government versions of aircraft have the option for LOX. Presidential B747s carry both LOX and GOX.
Common example (http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/LM-100J.html) of what is required on government/military aircraft can be found here: http://www.codeonemagazine.com/article.html?item_id=140
http://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed/data/aero/documents/LM100J/LM100J_Litho2015.pdf
« Last Edit: 07/06/2016 03:44 AM by russianhalo117 »

Offline Zed_Noir

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2190
  • Canada
  • Liked: 280
  • Likes Given: 434
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #32 on: 07/06/2016 04:32 AM »
I would think the FAA wouldn't allow fully fueled rocket operations at most busy commercial airports... at least not without some pretty stringent restrictions like temporarily shutting down the airport for normal airport operations. It looks like even Pegasus is limited to specific government and/or military airports:

http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/SPA_App/OfferDocuments/SP11215_2011021190.pdf

Quote
(3)  All captive carry operations will originate from Vandenburg AFB; Wallops Flight Facility; Patrick AFB; Cape Canaveral AS; Kennedy Space Center; or the Bucholz Army Air Facility, United States Army Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. To a maximum extent possible, after departing these facilities airspace, in-flight operations involving the L-1011/Pegasus must be conducted over the ocean. Alternate abort landing sites for Vandenburg AFB are Edwards AFB and the Mojave Airport/Spaceport.
How was the launch from the Canaries possible, then? Is that just something they can't do anymore?
It is quite simple. The venerable L-1011 aircraft (aka Star Grazer) use by Orbital ATK for launching the Pegasus does not met the current noise regulations for operation at a civilian air facility AIUI. I believe the Star Grazer is one of the few air-worthy L-1011s left.

Offline fthomassy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • Austin, Texas
  • Liked: 82
  • Likes Given: 1009
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #33 on: 07/06/2016 02:22 PM »
LOX Dewars are fairly routinely flown on C-17s (and of course there is LOX on the aircraft for breathing, too, see loading image below).  The C-17 was designed with LOX cryo vents both port and starboard to permit such operations.
Pictured, I believe, are EC-130.
gyatm . . . Fern

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6020
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1993
  • Likes Given: 681
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #34 on: 07/06/2016 03:31 PM »
LOX Dewars are fairly routinely flown on C-17s (and of course there is LOX on the aircraft for breathing, too, see loading image below).  The C-17 was designed with LOX cryo vents both port and starboard to permit such operations.

Interesting, but my point still stands: a LOX-carrying aircraft is likely to be restricted to flying from military/non-RPT airfields. ..and of course LOX isn't used for breathing air on a 747.

I still think you guys are seriously overthinking this. Until you load the LOX, the 747 and rocket are no different from any other 747 danger-wise. If having the LOX in a dewar in the vehicle isn't considered safe enough to treat it like a "normal aircraft", you just do the LOX loading out on a trim pad right before takeoff (and vent the LOX before returning to the airport if you have an abort). This isn't like a solid that's by definition always fueled with fuel and oxidizer intimately mixed at all times.

But going back to Comga's point, VG is going to have no lack of launch airport options. Even if they insisted on loading LOX into the rocket right at their hangar, the number of airports that could probably accomodate that is still well more than the 3-4 they actually need. The bigger question is why in that situation are they primarily flying out of traditional launch ranges when supposedly one of the benefits of air launch is not having to be tied to said ranges?

~Jon

Online HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1371
  • Liked: 850
  • Likes Given: 264
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #35 on: 07/06/2016 03:49 PM »
LOX Dewars are fairly routinely flown on C-17s (and of course there is LOX on the aircraft for breathing, too, see loading image below).  The C-17 was designed with LOX cryo vents both port and starboard to permit such operations.
Pictured, I believe, are EC-130.

Yes, it's being serviced for breathing LOX.  I couldn't handily find a C-17 image in brief search.

Offline Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3886
  • Liked: 1212
  • Likes Given: 1037
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #36 on: 07/06/2016 04:21 PM »
(snip)
But going back to Comga's point, VG is going to have no lack of launch airport options. Even if they insisted on loading LOX into the rocket right at their hangar, the number of airports that could probably accomodate that is still well more than the 3-4 they actually need. The bigger question is why in that situation are they primarily flying out of traditional launch ranges when supposedly one of the benefits of air launch is not having to be tied to said ranges?

~Jon

Precisely

Many states are supporting spaceports and others are trying to create them: Florida, Virginia, California, New Mexico, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, ...
Airborne launch would seem to be able to locate in any of them with costal access.  Why tie LauncherOne to existing range AND limit their versatility?
There must be a technical or regulatory reason.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6020
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1993
  • Likes Given: 681
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #37 on: 07/06/2016 05:25 PM »
(snip)
But going back to Comga's point, VG is going to have no lack of launch airport options. Even if they insisted on loading LOX into the rocket right at their hangar, the number of airports that could probably accomodate that is still well more than the 3-4 they actually need. The bigger question is why in that situation are they primarily flying out of traditional launch ranges when supposedly one of the benefits of air launch is not having to be tied to said ranges?

~Jon

Precisely

Many states are supporting spaceports and others are trying to create them: Florida, Virginia, California, New Mexico, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, ...
Airborne launch would seem to be able to locate in any of them with costal access.  Why tie LauncherOne to existing range AND limit their versatility?
There must be a technical or regulatory reason.

They could also be trying to start simple, and then evolve as capabilities get proven out? Maybe the rangeless range stuff from ALASA didn't make as much progress as it sounded like.

~Jon

Offline RonM

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2102
  • Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • Liked: 988
  • Likes Given: 760
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #38 on: 07/06/2016 07:35 PM »
(snip)
But going back to Comga's point, VG is going to have no lack of launch airport options. Even if they insisted on loading LOX into the rocket right at their hangar, the number of airports that could probably accomodate that is still well more than the 3-4 they actually need. The bigger question is why in that situation are they primarily flying out of traditional launch ranges when supposedly one of the benefits of air launch is not having to be tied to said ranges?

~Jon

Precisely

Many states are supporting spaceports and others are trying to create them: Florida, Virginia, California, New Mexico, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, ...
Airborne launch would seem to be able to locate in any of them with costal access.  Why tie LauncherOne to existing range AND limit their versatility?
There must be a technical or regulatory reason.

They could also be trying to start simple, and then evolve as capabilities get proven out? Maybe the rangeless range stuff from ALASA didn't make as much progress as it sounded like.

~Jon

The benefit of air launch is not being tied to a launch pad. There's nothing wrong with operating from an airstrip at a range. There's probably lots of advantages as far as regulations go. VG can always expand to other locations if there was some economic reason for it.

Just spitballing but would they not try to use the old shuttle abort airstrips? extra long runways and most are not commercial?

Offline CyndyC

(snip)
But going back to Comga's point, VG is going to have no lack of launch airport options. Even if they insisted on loading LOX into the rocket right at their hangar, the number of airports that could probably accomodate that is still well more than the 3-4 they actually need. The bigger question is why in that situation are they primarily flying out of traditional launch ranges when supposedly one of the benefits of air launch is not having to be tied to said ranges?

Precisely

Many states are supporting spaceports and others are trying to create them: Florida, Virginia, California, New Mexico, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, ...
Airborne launch would seem to be able to locate in any of them with costal access.  Why tie LauncherOne to existing range AND limit their versatility?
There must be a technical or regulatory reason.

I have a guess combining some inside knowledge I have with posts here steering VG away from commercial airports. I happen to know that an engineering firm headquartered in Jacksonville got VG permits to operate out of an old Navy airbase that is now Cecil Commerce Center, in west Jacksonville. That was in 2009 or early 2010, when Virgin Galactic was only about their own commercial passenger flights. So maybe they don't want satellite launches going on near their commercial passengers either? Also, Richard Branson's ego comes to mind, or not giving the impression of being as much part engineer as Elon Musk is, maybe he just feels safer staying close to the most expert in satellite launching.
« Last Edit: 07/07/2016 03:47 AM by CyndyC »
"Once a Blue, always a Blue." -- USN/USMC Flight Demonstration Squadron

Offline Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3886
  • Liked: 1212
  • Likes Given: 1037
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #41 on: 07/07/2016 04:51 AM »
(snip)
But going back to Comga's point, VG is going to have no lack of launch airport options. Even if they insisted on loading LOX into the rocket right at their hangar, the number of airports that could probably accomodate that is still well more than the 3-4 they actually need. The bigger question is why in that situation are they primarily flying out of traditional launch ranges when supposedly one of the benefits of air launch is not having to be tied to said ranges?

Precisely

Many states are supporting spaceports and others are trying to create them: Florida, Virginia, California, New Mexico, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, ...
Airborne launch would seem to be able to locate in any of them with costal access.  Why tie LauncherOne to existing range AND limit their versatility?
There must be a technical or regulatory reason.

I have a guess combining some inside knowledge I have with posts here steering VG away from commercial airports. I happen to know that an engineering firm headquartered in Jacksonville got VG permits to operate out of an old Navy airbase that is now Cecil Commerce Center, in west Jacksonville. That was in 2009 or early 2010, when Virgin Galactic was only about their own commercial passenger flights. So maybe they don't want satellite launches going on near their commercial passengers either? Also, Richard Branson's ego comes to mind, or not giving the impression of being as much part engineer as Elon Musk is, maybe he just feels safer staying close to the most expert in satellite launching.

The former guess wouldn't answer why they are tying launches to existing ranges, which would seem to go backwards on flexibility.  If they use range assets, no only are they giving up the freedom to arrange the launches independently, but they would have to coordinate with the ranges and reserve time like everyone else.  That's not going to work if they hit their projected launch pace, especially at the Cape if SpaceX hits their projected pace, or even a fraction of it.

The only way this makes sense to me if if the FAA is demanding that they use, and are monitored by, established ranges, and only granting launch licenses with that stipulation, at least for the initial flights.  Perhaps they want a range safety officer to keep control of the flight termination system, until they have some track record.

One would think that VG's website would at least hint at those future possibilities, but more diplomatic people may want to refrain from getting ahead of the regulatory environment. 

Please disabuse me of this concept if that's not within the reach of the FAA. 

As for Branson choosing this more constrained option for ego or lack of confidence, I would have no idea, but those don't sound right.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7436
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1434
  • Likes Given: 4475
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #42 on: 07/07/2016 11:11 PM »
May be is not about inconvenience but cost. May be the FAA is requesting so many assets that it is, in fact, cheaper to use an existing range.

Offline Chris Bergin

FOR  RELEASE  –     SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

VIRGIN GALACTIC ANNOUNCES SKY AND SPACE GLOBAL AS NEWEST LAUNCHERONE CUSTOMER

Signed Launch Services Agreement for Four Dedicated Missions

LauncherOne’s First Ever Low Inclination Launches

Paris, France - September 12 2016 – Commercial spaceline Virgin Galactic announced today that global communications company Sky and Space Global (ASX:SAS) has signed a binding launch services agreement to purchase four dedicated missions on the LauncherOne system. Speaking at the World Satellite Business Week event in Paris, officials from the two companies revealed that these flights will enable the deployment of Sky and Space Global’s initial constellation. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Virgin Galactic also announced the capability to fly LauncherOne from low latitudes, allowing customers to maximize the amount of payload delivered to low inclination orbit, including equatorial orbits. Typically, ground-based launch vehicles must expend significant amounts of performance to deliver spacecraft to inclinations well away from the latitude of the launch site. By contrast, as an air-launched system, LauncherOne can optimize each mission to customer requirements by operating from a variety of launch locations—including launching the rocket from above or near the equator in order to most efficiently and cost-effectively insert satellites into low inclination orbits.

 

Sky and Space Global’s flights are the first announced LauncherOne missions planned to fly from low latitudes, allowing Sky and Space Global to maximize the amount of payload delivered to a low inclination orbit. Previously disclosed LauncherOne contracts, including flights for OneWeb and NASA, are designed to fly to higher inclination orbits.

 

Each of the four launches purchased by Sky and Space Global will be used to carry multiple satellites, which will rapidly establish the company’s innovative communication system infrastructure and service. The flights are expected to begin in 2018.

 

Speaking at the Paris event, Virgin Galactic CEO George T. Whitesides said: “Having a 747 as our flying launch site means that LauncherOne can tailor each mission to suit each customer. We’ve seen an enormous level of commercial and governmental interest in launches that can reach equatorial orbits without having to pay the large performance penalty associated with transfer orbits. We’re very excited to have this agreement in place now with a great company like Sky and Space Global to deliver their satellites to orbit reliably, affordably, and flexibly.”

 

Sky and Space Global CEO Meir Moalem added: “We are thrilled to partner with Virgin Galactic on our exciting missions and LauncherOne’s first low inclination launches. Just as we value purposeful innovation and customer service, Virgin Galactic shares our values and our vision for how communication can fundamentally improve lives.  We have an ideal partner in Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne and its operational flexibility and are excited to work together to change the world for good.”

 

The fully-funded LauncherOne program is currently in advanced phase of hardware testing for every subsystem and major component of the vehicle. With hundreds of millions of dollars of launches already under contract, Virgin Galactic has established a state-of-the-art 150,000 square foot manufacturing shop in Long Beach, California, with a team of more than 200 experienced aerospace professionals currently preparing the system for its first test flights.

 

For more information and media inquiries:

 

http://www.image.net/virgingalactic

http://www.virgingalactic.com   

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #44 on: 10/18/2016 07:19 AM »
This is a little old, a hi-res image of inside the Launcher One factory.

It is quite revealing, worth looking closely at the details:



This location was listed for lease:

https://42floors.com/us/ca/long-beach/4022-e-conant-st

Priced at $40 per sqft p.a., so that right there is a $6M p.a. cost just for the lease, never mind running costs, staff, machines etc. Wow. To be honest I'm not a big fan of the air launch plan, but nobody can claim VG isn't investing very seriously in their plans.
« Last Edit: 10/18/2016 07:31 AM by ringsider »

Offline Kryten

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 484
  • Liked: 213
  • Likes Given: 25
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #45 on: 12/29/2016 08:59 PM »
Quote
Virgin Galactic ‏@virgingalactic  1h1 hour ago
Our #LauncherOne structures team met their 2016 goal of building tanks, interstages, and aft skirts for 4 launch vehicles.  Well done, team

Virgin Galactic ‏@virgingalactic  1h1 hour ago
And our #LauncherOne liquid propulsion team is really rocking now. Completed multiple long-duration, high thrust firings of our engines

Virgin Galactic ‏@virgingalactic  1h1 hour ago
We're running full, operational tests of our #LauncherOne boost & upper stage Newton rocket engines. Thanks to @barbernichols for pump work.

Virgin Galactic ‏@virgingalactic  1h1 hour ago
Lots more great progress on #LauncherOne happening behind the scenes, too. We are looking forward to a very productive 2017!

Offline gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • US
  • Liked: 1211
  • Likes Given: 928
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #46 on: 01/10/2017 08:42 PM »
Tweet from Jeff Foust:
Quote
Anna Stark, NASA Venture Class Launch Services project mgr: targeting December 2017 for VCLS launch of Virgin Galactic’s Launcher One.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7991
  • UK
  • Liked: 1277
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #47 on: 01/10/2017 08:53 PM »
Quote
Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Stark: overall, pleased with progress VCLS companies are making; knew going it unlikely all three would be successful, though.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/818929321960206339

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #48 on: 01/13/2017 06:42 PM »
LauncherOne FAA environmental impact notice and assessment are out (attached).
« Last Edit: 01/13/2017 06:43 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #49 on: 01/18/2017 08:21 PM »
Most people won't have waded through that NEPA document, but if they did they would find a interesting table showing expected number of successful flights vs scrubbed flights:-

« Last Edit: 01/18/2017 08:21 PM by ringsider »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #50 on: 02/07/2017 07:49 PM »
Quote
Whitesides: really excited to get into LauncherOne test flights before the end of the year. #CST2017

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/829068417759973376

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #51 on: 02/07/2017 07:51 PM »
Quote
Aiming for 1st test flights of LauncherOne before end of the year, will be mounted under port wing of 747 inboard of inner engine. #cst2017

https://twitter.com/stephenclark1/status/829068516670185472

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #52 on: 02/13/2017 04:54 PM »
Quote
Our #LauncherOne team continues to advance our rocket engines work. Here’s a recent long duration, full thrust NewtonThree test. 73,500 lbf!

https://twitter.com/virgingalactic/status/831196868520468480

Offline Chris Bergin

Related - Virgin Orbit:

FOR  RELEASE  –     MARCH 2, 2017

VIRGIN GALACTIC ANNOUNCES NEW COMMERCIAL SPACE COMPANY VIRGIN ORBIT

FEATURING LAUNCHERONE SMALL SATELLITE LAUNCH SERVICE

DAN HART, FORMER BOEING EXECUTIVE, APPOINTED PRESIDENT OF VIRGIN ORBIT

Long Beach, CA – March 2, 2017– Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic are pleased to announce Virgin Orbit, a new commercial space company, and the appointment of Dan Hart as the first President of the newly created company.  Virgin Orbit will offer flexible, routine and low cost launch services for small satellites via the LauncherOne system. Virgin Orbit’s activities were previously conducted as a division of Virgin Galactic.

 

Dan Hart joins Virgin Orbit after a distinguished 34 years at Boeing, where he was responsible for all of the company’s satellite programs for the US government and several allied countries. As Boeing’s Vice President of Government Satellite Systems, he led efforts in all phases of the aerospace product life cycle, from R&D through development, production and flight operations, and has supported numerous space launch missions across human spaceflight, satellite development, launch vehicle development, and missile defense.

 

Virgin Orbit is headquartered in a state-of-the-art 180,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California, and employs a world class team of more than 200 experienced aerospace professionals. Its vehicles include the LauncherOne rocket and its 747-400 flying launch pad, dubbed Cosmic Girl. The LauncherOne service already has a substantial order book, including both commercial and government customers.

 

Virgin Orbit is the third company in Virgin Group’s commercial space portfolio, Galactic Ventures, led by CEO George T. Whitesides and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS.  The three companies are developing world-leading aerospace products and services in the following categories, each contributing to their shared vision of opening space to change the world for good.

 

·         Virgin Orbit: small satellite launch services, headquartered in Long Beach, CA.

·         Virgin Galactic: human spaceflight, based in Mojave, CA during flight test and commercial service in New Mexico’s Spaceport America.

·         The Spaceship Company: design, manufacturing, and testing of aerospace vehicles. Headquartered in Mojave, CA.

 

The announcements come as the LauncherOne small satellite launch system is in advanced phase of hardware testing for every subsystem and major component of the vehicle—having already conducted long duration, full thrust firings of both of LauncherOne’s engines, cryogenic tank tests, and hardware-in-the-loop testing of the vehicle’s avionics.

 

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson: “It has been my longheld dream to open access to space to change the world for good. We have been striving to do that by manufacturing vehicles of the future, enabling the small satellite revolution, and preparing commercial space flight for many more humans to reach space and see our home planet. I’m thrilled that our small satellite launch service has now progressed to the point it merits the formation of its own company, Virgin Orbit, and a new president in Dan with decades of deep experience and success in a broad variety of space programs.”

 

Galactic Ventures CEO George T. Whitesides: “Virgin Orbit will lead the world in responsive, affordable, dedicated launch for small satellites.  Our new organizational structure positions each Virgin space company to achieve its full potential while remaining true to our shared purpose of opening space to all. It is a testament to the Virgin Orbit team that we start this chapter with our newest space company led by an exceptional individual like Dan.”

 

Virgin Orbit President Dan Hart: “The Virgin Galactic team has been boldly blazing the trail in a rapidly evolving space industry and I am thrilled to join the team.  In 34 years at Boeing, I've had the honor to work on some of the most iconic and successful space programs in history including the Space Shuttle, the Delta launch program and satellite systems that have connected the world and protected our nation. Along the way, I’ve been privileged to work alongside incredibly talented engineers and industry leaders who have contributed to my own approach to innovation in space systems. The perfect next challenge is to lead Virgin Orbit’s entrepreneurial team through a transformative time for not only Virgin Orbit but also the industry. To me, the Virgin brand is about making life on Earth better, and we are going to fulfill that purpose by accessing Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to connect billions of people and enabling valuable applications of data from space through Virgin Orbit’s flexible, affordable, and reliable launch service.”

 

For more information and media inquiries:

 

http://www.image.net/virgingalactic

http://www.virgingalactic.com 

UK inquiries: VirginGalactic@fticonsulting.com

NON UK inquiries: VirginGalacticPress@VirginGalactic.com

 

ABOUT VIRGIN ORBIT

Virgin Orbit will provide dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. Founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, Virgin Orbit and its sister companies—Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company—are opening access to space to change the world for good. To launch the small satellite revolution, Virgin Orbit is developing LauncherOne, a flexible launch service for commercial and government-built satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and will be air-launched from a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft capable of operating from many locations in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Virgin Orbit’s systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbit’s talented and growing team, visit virginorbit.com.

 

ABOUT VIRGIN GALACTIC

Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial spaceline. Founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, Virgin Galactic and its sister companies—Virgin Orbit and The Spaceship Company--are opening access to space to change the world for good.  Virgin Galactic is developing reliable, affordable, and frequent services both for human spaceflight and satellite launch. To revolutionize human spaceflight, Virgin Galactic is testing the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, a reusable space launch system. The number of customers who paid to reserve places to fly on SpaceShipTwo is already greater than the total number of humans who have ever been to space throughout history. SpaceShipTwo and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, are manufactured and tested in Mojave, California by Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing wing, The Spaceship Company. Commercial operations will be based in New Mexico at Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Galactic’s talented and growing team, visit virgingalactic.com.

 

ABOUT THE SPACESHIP COMPANY

The Spaceship Company is Virgin Galactic’s wholly owned space-system manufacturing organization. Headquartered at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, it is building and testing a fleet of WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and SpaceShipTwo reusable spaceships that, together, form Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight system. Like many Virgin companies across the world, its team of over 330 talented and dedicated engineers, technicians and professionals are drawn together by a willingness to disrupt and challenge the status quo and deliver innovative aerospace solutions to our customers’ needs. The Spaceship Company’s extensive capabilities encompass preliminary vehicle design and analysis, manufacturing, ground testing, flight testing and post-delivery support. To learn more or to apply to join The Spaceship Company’s talented and growing team, visit thespaceshipcompany.com.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #54 on: 03/02/2017 11:24 AM »
Here's Jeff Foust's write-up with some additional info & quotes: http://spacenews.com/former-boeing-executive-to-lead-virgins-smallsat-launch-venture/

For example:

Quote
More than 200 Virgin Galactic employees there will now be part of Virgin Orbit, and Whitesides said the new company is continuing to hire additional staff. Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company have more than 500 employees, primarily in Mojave, California.

Quote
Whitesides said Virgin Orbit is still on track for an initial test launch of LauncherOne by the end of this year. “We’re well through development of all major subsystems,” including the engines that will power the two-stage rocket, the vehicle’s structures and other major elements of the vehicle. Modifications of the 747, being done by L-3 Technologies in Waco, Texas, should be complete in the next few months.

Dan Hart and George Whitesides appear to be at the front left-centre of the attached company photo.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #55 on: 03/04/2017 04:22 PM »
Tweet from Virgin Orbit's BD:

Quote
Look at that @Virgin_Orbit made the front page!

https://twitter.com/spacesurfingirl/status/837848752052400128

The picture really shows the launcher one scale.

Edit: AvWeek article is http://aviationweek.com/space/new-virgin-orbit-formed-lead-smallsat-launch-vehicle
« Last Edit: 03/04/2017 04:25 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Online Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12571
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 2745
  • Likes Given: 410
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #56 on: 03/05/2017 02:27 AM »
Here's the image without any writing.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Online Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3388
  • California
  • Liked: 2629
  • Likes Given: 1656
Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #57 on: 03/05/2017 05:47 AM »
Wow, nice pictures of the hardware. Very exciting! How does the scale of Launcher One compare to Falcon 1? They seem very similar in size.

But spinning of Launcher One ops to its own company doesn't exactly make it seem like they are confident about the success of Virgin Galactic.
« Last Edit: 03/05/2017 05:48 AM by Lars-J »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #58 on: 03/05/2017 07:07 AM »
But spinning of Launcher One ops to its own company doesn't exactly make it seem like they are confident about the success of Virgin Galactic.

Maybe, but Virgin's point in the article (very different customer bases) makes sense. A distinct identity will help with different marketing etc & I hadn't realised how many people (250) are working just on LauncherOne.

I do agree though that being (perceived as) more separate will help if one side or the other has issues (such as major delays). Hopefully we'll see powered flights from both companies this year.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #59 on: 03/05/2017 07:53 AM »
Wow, nice pictures of the hardware. Very exciting! How does the scale of Launcher One compare to Falcon 1? They seem very similar in size.

I think you're right. F1 was 70 feet (F1e was to be 90). I can't find a published LauncherOne length, not even in its service guide, but it looks to be at least 1/3 of 747 length, possibly more. So that would make LauncherOne about 80 feet or more.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #60 on: 03/06/2017 07:20 PM »
Here's a much higher res version from Virgin Orbit:

Quote
Our manufacturing facility is starting to fill up with hardware for #LauncherOne. Structures,  engines, and more! Here's a small taste:

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/838836577577095169

Offline envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2557
  • Liked: 1142
  • Likes Given: 722
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #61 on: 03/06/2017 08:52 PM »
Closeups of the interstage, fairings, and S2 LOX tank and skirt. 151 lbm for the interstage :D

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #62 on: 03/08/2017 07:25 PM »
Love the high quality plywood work stands...

Offline SDSmith

  • Danny Smith
  • Member
  • Posts: 17
  • Georgia
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #63 on: 03/08/2017 09:15 PM »
Love the high quality plywood work stands...
And the padding on the supporting frames.

Online HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1371
  • Liked: 850
  • Likes Given: 264
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #64 on: 03/09/2017 04:02 AM »
Love the high quality plywood work stands...

This is the influence of ex-Scalies that work at The Spaceship Company. 

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #65 on: 03/09/2017 04:06 AM »
Love the high quality plywood work stands...

This is the influence of ex-Scalies that work at The Spaceship Company.
Ha. You are right, had not thought of that. Burt's legacy lives on.

Just seems incongruous to have about 300 employees, a 747-based concept, an enormous expensive factory in LA - and save money on plywood tressles...

Online HMXHMX

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1371
  • Liked: 850
  • Likes Given: 264
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #66 on: 03/09/2017 03:59 PM »
Love the high quality plywood work stands...

This is the influence of ex-Scalies that work at The Spaceship Company.
Ha. You are right, had not thought of that. Burt's legacy lives on.

Just seems incongruous to have about 300 employees, a 747-based concept, an enormous expensive factory in LA - and save money on plywood tressles...

Back when Scaled was Scaled (I'm thinking mid to late 90s) they had 30-60 employees, no 747 and a very inexpensive shop in Mojave.  That's how they could build prototype jet aircraft for $1-2M in 18 months or less.

To my mind, this is the way to build rockets.  Labor is everything, but these days, investors are wowed by "shiny."  VG is the poster child for shiny, in more ways than one.  (And to be fair, "shiny" started with Elon.)

Offline Hobbes-22

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 349
  • Acme Engineering
    • Acme Engineering shop
  • Liked: 98
  • Likes Given: 74
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #67 on: 03/10/2017 08:11 AM »
Isn't this the first rocket being assembled? It'd make sense to have temporary, improvised fixtures while the assembly process is being figured out.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #68 on: 03/14/2017 06:53 PM »
Quote
Honored to be named to the Rising Five, alongside the great teams at OneWeb @planetlabs, @SpireGlobal @KymetaCorp http://www.satellitetoday.com/telecom/2017/03/08/sspi-names-top-five-coming-space-companies/

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/841730997200740352

Quote
The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) named the first annual Rising Five, the five NewSpace companies in the satellite industry that have made the most substantial progress over the past year. The 2017 Rising Five are Kymeta, OneWeb, Planet, Spire Global and Virgin Galactic.

Online Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3388
  • California
  • Liked: 2629
  • Likes Given: 1656
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #69 on: 03/14/2017 07:21 PM »
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/841730997200740352

Quote
The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) named the first annual Rising Five, the five NewSpace companies in the satellite industry that have made the most substantial progress over the past year. The 2017 Rising Five are Kymeta, OneWeb, Planet, Spire Global and Virgin Galactic.

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the state of the small sat business. Progress is being made, but are these really the best five?

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #70 on: 03/15/2017 09:57 PM »
Quote
Testing of our NewtonFour rocket engine (for #LauncherOne upper stage) continues! Now w/ diffuser tube to simulate lower backpressures

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/842144666959011841

Offline zotiraki

  • Member
  • Posts: 15
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #71 on: 03/17/2017 08:43 AM »
Anybody know how many OneWeb satellites can be launched with a single LauncherOne? I can't find a definitive answer!  Thanks

Offline brickmack

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 236
  • USA
  • Liked: 70
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #72 on: 03/19/2017 06:26 PM »
Anybody know how many OneWeb satellites can be launched with a single LauncherOne? I can't find a definitive answer!  Thanks

1 each. Each satellite is about 200 kg, it pretty much maxes out LauncherOnes current performance target. Theres probably room for growth though

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #73 on: 03/27/2017 09:04 PM »
Quote
Because we know you love rocket engines: Full-thrust, long duration NewtonFour (upper stage engine) test last week. 1 of a couple that day!

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/846464634026524672

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #74 on: 04/02/2017 09:17 AM »
George Whitesides was interviewed on TMRO yesterday. Interview starts at about 20:50 into the show:



Interview covers LauncherOne from about 34:10. Don't think there's anything new. George said LauncherOne payload is 300 kg SSO, list price $12M.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #75 on: 04/10/2017 02:37 PM »
Virgin Orbit blog post on their use of 3D printing: https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/how-3d-printing-changing-future-space-industry

It's written for a general audience and includes this snippet:

Quote
Recently we tested a hybrid manufactured printed rocket engine part in a hot fire test for the very first time. It was a nozzle skirt extension for our upper stage engine and performed very well.

In the time it would take to build another nozzle skirt, we can 3D print it, make modifications and test it ten times.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 02:37 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6020
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1993
  • Likes Given: 681
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #76 on: 04/10/2017 03:23 PM »
Interview covers LauncherOne from about 34:10. Don't think there's anything new. George said LauncherOne payload is 300 kg SSO, list price $12M.

So two OneWeb sats for $12M, or roughly twice the payload of Electron (300kg SSO vs 150kg SSO) for a bit more than twice the price ($12M vs $5M). My only disappointment was that for a while they were saying "less than $10M" for the launch, without being specific, so I was hoping they had found a way to drive down the price, and were only being vague to not tip off the competition.

At $12M per launch, it puts them in the same $35-40k/kg to SSO category as most other dedicated smallsat launchers. Potentially interesting for constellation gap filling, but not really competitive for launching the main bulk of a constellation.

Still will be great to see if both they and RocketLabs can really get their first flights off this year.

~Jon
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 03:23 PM by jongoff »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #77 on: 05/04/2017 07:41 AM »
Quote
Auction alert: Virgin Orbit donated a behind-the-scenes look at their rocket factory for the winner and 5 guests! http://buff.ly/2pFjazM

https://twitter.com/setiinstitute/status/859504532383989760

I like the first picture with this tweet:

Offline Chris Bergin

Added "Orbit" to the thread title given they are going with that on most comments now.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Added "Orbit" to the thread title given they are going with that on most comments now.

And here's their new logo to go with the new name.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
We love our team, and we love our rocket. Seeing our new logo on #LauncherOne calls for a cheer (led by@richardbranson)
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/864959562163539968

Quote
Hardware is coming together.  Nice to see the fairing halves fastened together.
https://twitter.com/gtwhitesides/status/864960779593818112

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
wpomerantz6+ years ago, I joined Virgin Galactic as VP of Special Projects. One of my main jobs was to help the company expand to new projects, new technologies, and new markets. I'll admit I was initially a bit skeptical about one of the ideas right at the top of the list--a small satellite launch service. But, I put skepticism aside, led the study, and happily, my initial skepticism was overcome--and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Now, we've hired a team, moved into a factory, raised money, signed up customers, tested lots of hardware, and built rockets. I'm damn proud to be a part of this Virgin Orbit team!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BUUWm_MBf9R/

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12661
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3456
  • Likes Given: 576
Looks like insulation added to the tank exteriors.  This one is going to be tested somehow.  I wonder if it is a prototype or a flight vehicle.

In my mind, the biggest development hurdle will be actually taking off and flying with a rocket loaded with all of that venting cryogenic propellant, everyone's safety depending on those vent valves.  An AMOS 6 event is not an option.  Then, during testing, they will have to land somehow.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/20/2017 03:58 PM by edkyle99 »

Online matthewkantar

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 665
  • Liked: 417
  • Likes Given: 418
Looks like insulation added to the tank exteriors.  This one is going to be tested somehow.  I wonder if it is a prototype or a flight vehicle.

In my mind, the biggest development hurdle will be actually taking off and flying with a rocket loaded with all of that venting cryogenic propellant, everyone's safety depending on those vent valves.  An AMOS 6 event is not an option.  Then, during testing, they will have to land somehow.

 - Ed Kyle

The above comment is a compelling argument for the aircraft to fly unmanned. The cost of developing an unmanned 747 would seemed to be trivial in comparison to the project as a whole. Flying with crew aboard may seem cheaper now,  it I suspect it won't be long term.

Matthew

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21


In my mind, the biggest development hurdle will be actually taking off and flying with a rocket loaded with all of that venting cryogenic propellant, everyone's safety depending on those vent valves.  An AMOS 6 event is not an option.  Then, during testing, they will have to land somehow.

This is exactly why launching horizontal with cryofluids is dumb as a box of rocks.

Online Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3388
  • California
  • Liked: 2629
  • Likes Given: 1656
Looks like insulation added to the tank exteriors.  This one is going to be tested somehow.  I wonder if it is a prototype or a flight vehicle.

In my mind, the biggest development hurdle will be actually taking off and flying with a rocket loaded with all of that venting cryogenic propellant, everyone's safety depending on those vent valves.  An AMOS 6 event is not an option.  Then, during testing, they will have to land somehow.

 - Ed Kyle

The above comment is a compelling argument for the aircraft to fly unmanned. The cost of developing an unmanned 747 would seemed to be trivial in comparison to the project as a whole. Flying with crew aboard may seem cheaper now,  it I suspect it won't be long term.

Matthew

Virgin Orbit operation is relatively lean, so the cost of a 747 sized unmanned aircraft development would certainly NOT be trivial, and would probably double or triple (or more) their development cost.

And the longer they use it, the cheaper the cost will be, assuming the LOX loading bugs are worked out.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12661
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3456
  • Likes Given: 576


In my mind, the biggest development hurdle will be actually taking off and flying with a rocket loaded with all of that venting cryogenic propellant, everyone's safety depending on those vent valves.  An AMOS 6 event is not an option.  Then, during testing, they will have to land somehow.

This is exactly why launching horizontal with cryofluids is dumb as a box of rocks.
X-15 would jettison unused propellant, I believe (it flew on LOX/Ammonia).  I'm not sure about the B-52 mother ship.  I wonder how Virgin Orbit will do things.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/21/2017 12:15 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6020
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 1993
  • Likes Given: 681


In my mind, the biggest development hurdle will be actually taking off and flying with a rocket loaded with all of that venting cryogenic propellant, everyone's safety depending on those vent valves.  An AMOS 6 event is not an option.  Then, during testing, they will have to land somehow.

This is exactly why launching horizontal with cryofluids is dumb as a box of rocks.
X-15 would jettison unused propellant, I believe (it flew on LOX/Ammonia).  I'm not sure about the B-52 mother ship.  I wonder how Virgin Orbit will do things.

Out of curiosity did X-15 have lots of problems with doing air launch with cryogens? Or the X-1 or X-2 or any of the other air-launched liquid rocket vehicles?

~Jon

Offline GClark

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 333
  • Liked: 28
  • Likes Given: 5
IIRC of the four rocketplane explosions, three (X-1A, X-1D, X-2#2) happened in the air.

It's not really accurate to compare those with the X-15s or Virgin because they were mounted at least partially inside the bomb bay of the launch aircraft.

I've read most of the pop stuff (and a good deal of the non-pop stuff) on the various US rocket plane programs.  I don't recall either Hallion, Reed or Thompson addressing this particular issue directly.  Hallion, Thompson, Miller and Crossfield all made note of the aborts, where the procedure was to vent propellants.

Most of what I've read discusses the ground loading procedures, noting how time-consuming they were etc.  None of them ever talk about any in-air difficulties per se.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Clearer shot of the rocket from Virgin.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
New Virgin Orbit promo; some interesting factory shots:


Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
We put our parts through hell on the ground before flight.  E.g. here's us prepping a full-scale 1st stage dev LOX tank for structural test

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/868163697239371781

Online catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4507
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 1396
  • Likes Given: 840
Virgin Orbit - NewtonThree Hotfire (5 June 2017)

Virgin Orbit
Published on Jun 12, 2017


At Virgin Orbit, we test our rocket engines all the time. Here's a video of a typical test, conducted at our facilities in Mojave, CA. In this video, we test throttling down our NewtonThree rocket engine--the single rocket engine that will power the main stage of our LauncherOne rocket.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqOzNDYr83s?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Online catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4507
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 1396
  • Likes Given: 840
Virgin Orbit - "Boost Imagination" Team Event

Virgin Orbit
Published on Jun 12, 2017


On May 16th, we cleared out a corner of our rocket factory and treated our hardworking staff to a special event designed to boost their imagination. Our thanks go out to Emily Calandrelli (Emmy-nominated TV host and author), Mary Wittenberg (Global CEO of Virgin Sport), Cliff Beek (President of Cloud Constellation), and of course Sir Richard Branson for getting us fired up!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Nfc0tm2znk?t=001



Tony De La Rosa

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4685
  • Liked: 2806
  • Likes Given: 3925
Vertical integration is spreading...

New article:
Quote
Virgin Orbit’s newly-minted CEO will use psychology to launch satellites faster than anyone else
Quote
“The integration of the team has to happen in the right way so the integration of the system can happen,” Hart says. “People picture some isolated person in an office, [but] so much of aerospace is teams, how they communicate, solve problems. It’s really psychology.”

In its new Long Beach facility, Orbit’s engineers are hard at work. Tim Buzza, a former SpaceX executive hired in 2015 to lead development of the LauncherOne rocket, helped bring some of that firm’s cost-saving vertical integration to Orbit, which leans on building components in-house and using new manufacturing technology. The rocket body is made from carbon composites created in-house, and Orbit boasts a partnership with DMG MORI to pilot its latest 3D-printing technology to make engine parts. The propulsion system and propellant tanks were designed by Virgin Orbit’s team.

Young engineers showing off the factory floor talked to Quartz about the benefits of being close to the manufacturing process as the rocket moves from design to production. So far, the company’s 300 employees have built four rockets for testing.

Quote
“I don’t have layers and layers of organization to deal with,” Hart says of how his new role leading a small company compares to heading up a major division at Boeing. “[We can] get four or five people around a whiteboard debating, somebody gets an idea, [and you] get a jazzed team that now has a plan. I see that happening on a daily basis.”

https://qz.com/1003876/virgin-orbits-newly-minted-ceo-will-use-psychology-to-launch-satellites-faster-than-anyone-else/
« Last Edit: 06/13/2017 02:51 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust 13m13 minutes ago

Garrett Skrobot, NASA: Cubesat Launch Initiative has launched 49 satellites, 49 more manifested; 54 un-assigned.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/874971169170083841

Quote
Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust 12m12 minutes ago

Skrobot’s schedule shown here includes a Rocket Lab Electron launch NET Nov 2017, and a Virgin Orbit LauncherOne flight NET Dec 2017.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/874971400100089857

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
David Caponio, Virgin Orbit: 747 carrier aircraft in the final phases of modifications, and should be done in the next month.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/875048061654970370

Offline gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • US
  • Liked: 1211
  • Likes Given: 928
[Aviation Week] Virgin Orbit Nears ‘Pathfinder’ LauncherOne Completion
Quote
Completion of the initial launch vehicle at Virgin Orbit’s Long Beach, California, facility comes as the company accelerates assembly work on a further three rockets for test and initial development flights...Pathfinder will be used for ground evaluations as well as captive carry testing beneath the left wing of the 747 carrier aircraft.

Good summary of current progress on engines/etc. in the article.

Offline gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • US
  • Liked: 1211
  • Likes Given: 928
Tweets from Jeff Foust:
Quote
Richard Dalbello, Virgin Galactic:will be a role for both small launchers like LauncherOne as well as big vehicles. Notes, in passing, a $12M price point for L1.
Dalbello: expect to see customers for whom schedule, not price, is a key factor, thus more interested in dedicated launch vs rideshare.

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Just out of interest, how many operational air-launch orbital launchers are there, vs how many vertical?

I only know one operational air-launch, Pegasus from Orbital ATK, are there more? I would guess there must be approx 15-20 vertical orbital launchers in operation.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 10:25 AM by ringsider »

Online Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3388
  • California
  • Liked: 2629
  • Likes Given: 1656
https://twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/883395032388050946
Quote
Virgin Orbit‏ @Virgin_Orbit
By popular demand: here's a video of a recent, 6-minute-long test of our NewtonFour (upper stage) rocket engine.


 :)
« Last Edit: 07/07/2017 07:30 PM by Lars-J »

Offline whitelancer64

Just out of interest, how many operational air-launch orbital launchers are there, vs how many vertical?

I only know one operational air-launch, Pegasus from Orbital ATK, are there more? I would guess there must be approx 15-20 vertical orbital launchers in operation.

Only Pegasus is operational.

There are a few others that are in development. Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne and Stratolaunch are the only two that are anywhere near being operational, and Stratolaunch doesn't have its own rocket yet, as of now it would launch Pegasus.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2557
  • Liked: 1142
  • Likes Given: 722
Just out of interest, how many operational air-launch orbital launchers are there, vs how many vertical?

I only know one operational air-launch, Pegasus from Orbital ATK, are there more? I would guess there must be approx 15-20 vertical orbital launchers in operation.

Only Pegasus is operational.

There are a few others that are in development. Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne and Stratolaunch are the only two that are anywhere near being operational, and Stratolaunch doesn't have its own rocket yet, as of now it would launch Pegasus.

There are 33 active orbital launcher families listed here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_orbital_launchers_families

I think of those only Pegasus is air-launched.

Online catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4507
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 1396
  • Likes Given: 840
Virgin Orbit - NewtonFour Hotfire (29 June 2017)

Virgin Orbit
Published on Jul 7, 2017


LauncherOne is powered by two rocket engines—a single NewtonThree on the main stage and a single NewtonFour on the upper stage. Both engines are turbopump-fed, gas generator cycle, LOX/RP-1 engines developed in-house here at Virgin Orbit. Here’s a typical test of the NewtonFour on our test stand up in Mojave, CA, in which the engine runs for a full six minutes—the same duration it would run during a full orbital launch. By popular demand, we're posting this in real time--all six minutes of rockety goodness!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGZF4o-gwHk?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
1/2 @Virgin_Orbit #LauncherOne: Final Env. Assessment & Finding of No Significant Impact for @MojaveAirport launches https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-07-26/html/2017-15702.htm
https://twitter.com/ac_charania/status/890283913733578752

Quote
2/2 @Virgin_Orbit #LauncherOne: Final Env. Assessment & FONSI for @MojaveAirport launches; full PDF document: faa.gov/about/office_o…
https://twitter.com/ac_charania/status/890284214280519680

Offline starchasercowboy

  • Member
  • Posts: 28
  • Liked: 26
  • Likes Given: 0
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

Offline imprezive

  • Member
  • Posts: 28
  • CA
  • Liked: 8
  • Likes Given: 1
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

Nice! Are there pics?

Online cwr

Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

Isn't the list:
1) Stargazer - Pegasus
2) White Knight 2 - Spaceship 2
3) Cosmic Girl - Launcher one
4) Stratolaunch - Pegasus and something else

or are you discounting stratolaunch because it hasn't flown yet?

Carl

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

Nice! Are there pics?

Quote
Air-Launch Awesome: 747-400 carrier aircraft #CosmicGirl for @Virgin_Orbit #LauncherOne arrived today at @MojaveAirport via @ShorealoneFilms
https://twitter.com/ac_charania/status/890708601982955520

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
Virgin Orbit will land its flying launchpad – ‘Cosmic girl’ – in Long Beach Monday

By Andrew Edwards, Press-Telegram
POSTED: 07/28/17, 4:09 PM PDT

http://www.presstelegram.com/business/20170728/virgin-orbit-will-land-its-flying-launchpad-cosmic-girl-in-long-beach-monday

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5868
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 744
  • Likes Given: 4501
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

Nice! Are there pics?

Quote
Air-Launch Awesome: 747-400 carrier aircraft #CosmicGirl for @Virgin_Orbit #LauncherOne arrived today at @MojaveAirport via @ShorealoneFilms
Coupled with the the engine test this is very good news.  :)

Historically the Pegasus has about the highest $/lb to LEO prices of any LV. It's speculated quite a lot of that was down to the fact the solids were bought in from a separate supplier (and part owner).

In principal making both engines in house should give VO a much better cost structure.

The other issue with Pegasus was it needed a very strong wing structure to do a 45 deg pull out maneuver shortly after launch, as a better angle makes a significant difference to flight efficiency. On that basis I guess the question would be what angle can cosmic girl crank up to before the drop?

It's been a long time coming but this looks like it's finally starting to close in on a first launch. 
« Last Edit: 07/29/2017 04:42 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline ncb1397

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 706
  • Liked: 319
  • Likes Given: 3

Historically the Pegasus has about the highest $/lb to LEO prices of any LV. It's speculated quite a lot of that was down to the fact the solids were bought in from a separate supplier (and part owner).

Like comparing the cost per kg of shipping by motorcycle vs semi-truck.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5868
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 744
  • Likes Given: 4501

Historically the Pegasus has about the highest $/lb to LEO prices of any LV. It's speculated quite a lot of that was down to the fact the solids were bought in from a separate supplier (and part owner).

Like comparing the cost per kg of shipping by motorcycle vs semi-truck.
Only if the payload on the semi truck can be broken down into packages the motorcycle can carry.

Comparing LauncherOne to Pegasus VO say 500Kg to 200Km at 28deg to equator, Orbital XL. Pegasus XL 450Kg at 28 deg at 200Km altitude.

In principal LO seems to be a bit higher performance, and its liquid fuel engines could (in principal) allow throttling and coasting, giving higher precision orbital injection. The liquid fuel HAPS only seems to be useful for very high altitude (1400Km+) orbits. It would quite impressive if the 2 stage LO could outperform the 4 stage Pegasus with HAPS.   
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Cosmic Girl arrival in Long Beach

Quote
Cosmic Girl - she'll get a paint job to look a bit more Virgin later #welcomehomecosmicgirl @… https://www.instagram.com/p/BXOyHT_Fune/
https://twitter.com/BernyGilbey/status/892179485440823296

Quote
Gutted out 747 #welcomehomecosmicgirl #747 #weboughta747 @ Virgin Galactic https://www.instagram.com/p/BXO2LVJl4-S/
https://twitter.com/BernyGilbey/status/892188431173926912

Quote
Long Beach Mayor‏ @LongBeachMayor 9h9 hours ago

The future of aerospace is here at Virgin Orbit in Long Beach 🚀
https://twitter.com/LongBeachMayor/status/892176222037331968

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7991
  • UK
  • Liked: 1277
  • Likes Given: 168
Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #114 on: 08/01/2017 11:42 AM »
Virgin Orbit Readies For Boeing 747 'Cosmic Girl' Flight Test Build-Up

Long Beach -- Virgin Orbit's modified Boeing 747-400 carrier aircraft, Cosmic Girl, is being readied for a series of ground and flight tests in the build-up towards captive carry evaluations of the company’s LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle. The initial ground test phase will begin in early August and follows delivery of the former Virgin Atlantic Airways 747 to the company's Long Beach, California headquarters on July 31. The aircraft arrived after completing final ...

http://m.aviationweek.com/space/virgin-orbit-readies-boeing-747-cosmic-girl-flight-test-build
« Last Edit: 08/01/2017 11:43 AM by Star One »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
Virgin Orbit plans 2018 first launch
by Jeff Foust — August 2, 2017

WASHINGTON — Virgin Orbit, the spinoff of Virgin Galactic that is developing the LauncherOne small launch vehicle, is now planning a first flight of that rocket in the first half of 2018, the company said Aug. 1.

http://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-plans-2018-first-launch/

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Video has shots inside the aircraft, including the flight deck:



Quote
Published on 1 Aug 2017

Welcome Home, Cosmic Girl!

On July 31, 2017 Virgin Orbit’s 747-400 named Cosmic Girl, touched down for the first time in Long Beach Airport. For our airport neighbors, it was a rare sighting of a 747 -- and a mobile rocket launcher at that. For Virgin Orbit employees and supporters, including Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, the homecoming marked the completion of significant modification work that enables her to launch rockets for our satellite customers.
« Last Edit: 08/02/2017 02:03 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Online Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12571
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 2745
  • Likes Given: 410
Above video link is dead. Here is the new link.

Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/894731281627361280Hot off the presses for #SmallSat2017, check out our new Service Guide. All you need to know to fly on #LauncherOne. virg.in/guide2017


Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.
« Last Edit: 08/10/2017 10:01 PM by ringsider »


Offline imprezive

  • Member
  • Posts: 28
  • CA
  • Liked: 8
  • Likes Given: 1
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?
I think air-launch is expensive and more difficult - even though there are a few benefits, they are hard won. And the case of Virgin they use the 747 as a marketing prop from Virgin Atlantic.

But as I said I actually have a lot of respect for the way they are going about it, despite my preferences. I have nothing bad to say about Virgin Orbit, they are professional and serious.
« Last Edit: 08/11/2017 08:13 PM by ringsider »

Offline russianhalo117

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3726
  • AR USA / Berlin, DE / Moscow, RF
  • Liked: 686
  • Likes Given: 433
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?
I think air-launch is expensive and more difficult - even though there are a few benefits, they are hard won. And the case of Virgin they use the 747 as a marketing prop from Virgin Atlantic.

But as I said I actually have a lot of respect for the way they are going about it, despite my preferences. I have nothing bad to say about Virgin Orbit, they are professional and serious.

Air launch for a Pegasus is much cheaper and easier than using its ground equivalent Minotaur-C.

Offline envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2557
  • Liked: 1142
  • Likes Given: 722
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?
I think air-launch is expensive and more difficult - even though there are a few benefits, they are hard won. And the case of Virgin they use the 747 as a marketing prop from Virgin Atlantic.

But as I said I actually have a lot of respect for the way they are going about it, despite my preferences. I have nothing bad to say about Virgin Orbit, they are professional and serious.

Air launch for a Pegasus is much cheaper and easier than using its ground equivalent Minotaur-C.

Minotaur gives triple the Pegasus payload for slightly more cost. An equivalent payload first stage might be cheaper than air-launch.

Offline TrevorMonty

Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?
I think air-launch is expensive and more difficult - even though there are a few benefits, they are hard won. And the case of Virgin they use the 747 as a marketing prop from Virgin Atlantic.

But as I said I actually have a lot of respect for the way they are going about it, despite my preferences. I have nothing bad to say about Virgin Orbit, they are professional and serious.
Peter Beck from RL has discovered the hard way that developing launch pad facilities is not any easier. Air launch has more flexibility in launch orbits and can fly round bad weather. Using common 747 is good business practice, can easily be maintained and replaced if need be.

Time will tell which system is better.

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?
I think air-launch is expensive and more difficult - even though there are a few benefits, they are hard won. And the case of Virgin they use the 747 as a marketing prop from Virgin Atlantic.

But as I said I actually have a lot of respect for the way they are going about it, despite my preferences. I have nothing bad to say about Virgin Orbit, they are professional and serious.
Peter Beck from RL has discovered the hard way that developing launch pad facilities is not any easier. Air launch has more flexibility in launch orbits and can fly round bad weather. Using common 747 is good business practice, can easily be maintained and replaced if need be.

Time will tell which system is better.
Yeah those are the supposed benefits.

But the reality is the cost of airframe conversion is quite high, as is annual maintenance. I doubt that building a concrete pad and steel tower is as hard as a 747 D-check, even if Peter found it hard. It could also be he is trying to wave competitors off, you know? Make it look very hard.

Then you have the added risk of humans (pilots) involved proximally to the air launch system, while it carries a liquid-fuelled rocket under-wing. That is a much bigger risk than an unmanned VL system.

There is a reason so few horizontals have been built.
« Last Edit: 08/12/2017 10:19 PM by ringsider »

Offline imprezive

  • Member
  • Posts: 28
  • CA
  • Liked: 8
  • Likes Given: 1
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?
I think air-launch is expensive and more difficult - even though there are a few benefits, they are hard won. And the case of Virgin they use the 747 as a marketing prop from Virgin Atlantic.

But as I said I actually have a lot of respect for the way they are going about it, despite my preferences. I have nothing bad to say about Virgin Orbit, they are professional and serious.
Peter Beck from RL has discovered the hard way that developing launch pad facilities is not any easier. Air launch has more flexibility in launch orbits and can fly round bad weather. Using common 747 is good business practice, can easily be maintained and replaced if need be.

Time will tell which system is better.
Yeah those are the supposed benefits.

But the reality is the cost of airframe conversion is quite high, as is annual maintenance. I doubt that building a concrete pad and steel tower is as hard as a 747 D-check, even if Peter found it hard. It could also be he is trying to wave competitors off, you know? Make it look very hard.

Then you have the added risk of humans (pilots) involved proximally to the air launch system, while it carries a liquid-fuelled rocket under-wing. That is a much bigger risk than an unmanned VL system.

There is a reason so few horizontals have been built.

D-checks are every 5 years and the utilization of the Virgin Orbit plane is far less than an airliner so maybe longer. I don't know the cost of pad maintenance vs the 747 but my gut is the pad would be more.

Safety is certainly a real difference. Of course people fly on rockets too so it's just a matter of redundancy.

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
Cosmic Girl had a full D check before being allowed to be put to this use by the FAA, and then a conversion which probably includes some kind of fuelling / dumping system inside the plane as well as the attach / release mechanisms. None of that is trivial. So there is that cost and complexity to be considered up front.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/amp19987/virgin-galactic-cosmic-girl-747-launch-satellites/

I would be surprised if you got out of that process for less than the entire cost of a fixed pad, really surprised. That is at least 10-15m USD, plus the cost of the aircraft itself, which given the conversion is probably not on a simple lease.

Everybody things horizontal is easy and cheap, but if that were true it would be much more common. There are challenges that only become obvious when you look at it really carefully.

Even Virgin's L1 flight schedule acknowledges this (I posted it here a few months ago), with a ratio of aborts to successful launches. Imagine if they have to abort mid-air - what do they do with the liquid oxygen and extra RP-1 in the LV? Can't land with that for sure, so will dumping of large amounts of RP-1 into the Pacific or desert become SOP after an abort? How do you safely vent RP-1 and LOX at 500knots? What if the first LV explodes "on the pad"? I mean it's not like that is an unknown phenomenon.

Again I am not knocking Virgin Orbit, I am sure they have plans, just outlining my views on the challenges of air launch.
« Last Edit: 08/13/2017 07:57 AM by ringsider »

Offline imprezive

  • Member
  • Posts: 28
  • CA
  • Liked: 8
  • Likes Given: 1
Cosmic Girl had a full D check before being allowed to be put to this use by the FAA, and then a conversion which probably includes some kind of fuelling / dumping system inside the plane as well as the attach / release mechanisms. None of that is trivial. So there is that cost and complexity to be considered up front.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/amp19987/virgin-galactic-cosmic-girl-747-launch-satellites/

I would be surprised if you got out of that process for less than the entire cost of a fixed pad, really surprised. That is at least 10-15m USD, plus the cost of the aircraft itself, which given the conversion is probably not on a simple lease.

Everybody things horizontal is easy and cheap, but if that were true it would be much more common. There are challenges that only become obvious when you look at it really carefully.

Even Virgin's L1 flight schedule acknowledges this (I posted it here a few months ago), with a ratio of aborts to successful launches. Imagine if they have to abort mid-air - what do they do with the liquid oxygen and extra RP-1 in the LV? Can't land with that for sure, so will dumping of large amounts of RP-1 into the Pacific or desert become SOP after an abort? How do you safely vent RP-1 and LOX at 500knots? What if the first LV explodes "on the pad"? I mean it's not like that is an unknown phenomenon.

Again I am not knocking Virgin Orbit, I am sure they have plans, just outlining my views on the challenges of air launch.

By no means am I saying the costs are trivial but neither are the costs of building/refurbing a launch pad. According to Wikipedia SpaceX spent $20-30 million for their Vandenberg pad and $5-$10 million a year in maintenance. That's just for one pad, to hit low and high inclination orbits you'd need two.

Horizontal launch might not be common but neither are small launch vehicles. The economics might very well be different.

What makes you think that you have to dump the RP1 and LOX to land?

I know you aren't knocking Virgin Orbit, you always seem to have good comments so I enjoy your perspective.

Online ringsider

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Liked: 132
  • Likes Given: 21
By no means am I saying the costs are trivial but neither are the costs of building/refurbing a launch pad. According to Wikipedia SpaceX spent $20-30 million for their Vandenberg pad and $5-$10 million a year in maintenance. That's just for one pad, to hit low and high inclination orbits you'd need two.

Yes but that is for Falcon 9 which has a fully tanked mass of 550 tons. Rocket Lab Electron is less than 20 tons, and that is more in the same class as Virgin Orbit. I can't imagine the same costs apply to a pad of that scale - can't be more than $5-10m for the complete build out. Also from that pad they have a wide range of inclinations available.

Quote
What makes you think that you have to dump the RP1 and LOX to land?

Mainly risk. That is a 30-35 ton vehicle under the wing, I'm not sure it's clever or allowable to land in the main gear with that fully tanked. They may have a pumping solution to fuel/defuel it in flight, I don't know, but it's a complex process whatever they do.

Offline TrevorMonty

In RL case I don't think actual launch pad facilities construction was much more difficult than expected. More likely it was local roading upgrade required and ground work.

 "I know more about gravel compaction and aggregate size than I ever wanted to know in my life," says Beck.

Online ppb

  • Member
  • Posts: 41
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Liked: 20
  • Likes Given: 60
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?
I think air-launch is expensive and more difficult - even though there are a few benefits, they are hard won. And the case of Virgin they use the 747 as a marketing prop from Virgin Atlantic.

But as I said I actually have a lot of respect for the way they are going about it, despite my preferences. I have nothing bad to say about Virgin Orbit, they are professional and serious.
Peter Beck from RL has discovered the hard way that developing launch pad facilities is not any easier. Air launch has more flexibility in launch orbits and can fly round bad weather. Using common 747 is good business practice, can easily be maintained and replaced if need be.

Time will tell which system is better.
Yeah those are the supposed benefits.

But the reality is the cost of airframe conversion is quite high, as is annual maintenance. I doubt that building a concrete pad and steel tower is as hard as a 747 D-check, even if Peter found it hard. It could also be he is trying to wave competitors off, you know? Make it look very hard.

Then you have the added risk of humans (pilots) involved proximally to the air launch system, while it carries a liquid-fuelled rocket under-wing. That is a much bigger risk than an unmanned VL system.

There is a reason so few horizontals have been built.

You identified the number one reason this concept is a bad idea.  It's repeating the Space Shuttle mistake all over again:  unnecessarily risking people to launch unmanned payloads into orbit.  Almost every rocket design has had a RUD event near the launch point at some time in its history, some sooner than others.  Take a good look at the Cosmic Girl-- when that event inevitably happens to Launcher One, that will be the end of the Girl and the poor crewmen whose number came up that day.  Probably the end of Virgin Orbit as well.  All for some range flexibility and questionable decrease in price.
Quam celerrime ad astra

Offline GClark

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 333
  • Liked: 28
  • Likes Given: 5
Wow, you're right.  We've never succeeded at this before.  Why, remember all those X-15s that RUD'd, sending those B-52's crashing to Earth and killing the crews.

/sarc

Offline TrevorMonty

RUD typically happen after  engines are light by which time carry aircaft would be will clear.

F9 US explosion on pad being one of few exceptions.

Offline Bananas_on_Mars

  • Member
  • Posts: 8
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 1
Even Virgin's L1 flight schedule acknowledges this (I posted it here a few months ago), with a ratio of aborts to successful launches. Imagine if they have to abort mid-air - what do they do with the liquid oxygen and extra RP-1 in the LV? Can't land with that for sure, so will dumping of large amounts of RP-1 into the Pacific or desert become SOP after an abort? How do you safely vent RP-1 and LOX at 500knots?
Since RP-1 is just a "purer" standard for kerosene, you can pump it into the normal airplanes tanks if necessary.
And dumping of kerosene is kind of standard emergency procedure for airplanes. Not nice, but most of it should evaporate before it hits the ground.

Dumping LOX should be a nobrainer in my opinion.

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7616
  • N. California
  • Liked: 3938
  • Likes Given: 816
Even Virgin's L1 flight schedule acknowledges this (I posted it here a few months ago), with a ratio of aborts to successful launches. Imagine if they have to abort mid-air - what do they do with the liquid oxygen and extra RP-1 in the LV? Can't land with that for sure, so will dumping of large amounts of RP-1 into the Pacific or desert become SOP after an abort? How do you safely vent RP-1 and LOX at 500knots?
Since RP-1 is just a "purer" standard for kerosene, you can pump it into the normal airplanes tanks if necessary.
And dumping of kerosene is kind of standard emergency procedure for airplanes. Not nice, but most of it should evaporate before it hits the ground.

Dumping LOX should be a nobrainer in my opinion.

Agreed, and once the O2 is dumped, I don't even know if you need to dump the RP-1, since the O2 is the heavier component.

However, the quote below is misguided:
Wow, you're right.  We've never succeeded at this before.  Why, remember all those X-15s that RUD'd, sending those B-52's crashing to Earth and killing the crews.
/sarc

Just because it was done, doesn't mean it should.  There's a reason launch pads get evacuated before fueling, and not before launch.  Even on manned flights (which this isn't), crew loading is a high-risk step, and witness the recent public discussion about "crew first" or "fuel first" - so why do it when it's just a mini-sat that's being launched?

---

In the grand scheme of things though, I think with a modern vehicle, this is not a giant overbearing risk, certainly not "an accident waiting to happen".  The payload is largely passive, and airplanes carry dangerous payloads all the time.

As long as the rocket is far enough away when the ignition sequence starts, I think it's ok.
« Last Edit: 08/19/2017 05:21 PM by meekGee »
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12661
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3456
  • Likes Given: 576
Wow, you're right.  We've never succeeded at this before.  Why, remember all those X-15s that RUD'd, sending those B-52's crashing to Earth and killing the crews.

/sarc

There were two or three X-1 explosions while being carried by B-50 mother ships. 

Pressurized RP/LOX rockets occasionally explode.  Just last year, for example, at SLC 41.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline GClark

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 333
  • Liked: 28
  • Likes Given: 5
Four actually - X-1D, X-1#3, X-2#1, and X-1A (in that order).  All were lost to the same root cause.

I deliberately ignored them, as I was comparing like to like - under-wing pylon mounted being the discriminator.

I agree that RUDs are possible.  X-15#3 famously had one.

I disagree with the way it was being characterized - it is inevitable, the launch aircraft will be destroyed and people will die, therefore it is too dangerous and shouldn't be done.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
.@Virgin_Orbit #LauncherOne 30 sec test of NewtonFour 5klbf LOX/RP upper stage engine (1st night test; Aug 29, 2017) instagram.com/p/BYrH9PZgu-D

https://twitter.com/ac_charania/status/905201873703104514

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
We are now cleared to test our rocket engines during the night shift! More time = more testing. Thanks to @MojaveAirport & @kerncountyfire

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/905210196208656384

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5868
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 744
  • Likes Given: 4501
You identified the number one reason this concept is a bad idea.  It's repeating the Space Shuttle mistake all over again:  unnecessarily risking people to launch unmanned payloads into orbit.  Almost every rocket design has had a RUD event near the launch point at some time in its history, some sooner than others.  Take a good look at the Cosmic Girl-- when that event inevitably happens to Launcher One, that will be the end of the Girl and the poor crewmen whose number came up that day.  Probably the end of Virgin Orbit as well.  All for some range flexibility and questionable decrease in price.
From a certain angle this really does sound like concern trolling.

You wouldn't believe Orbital have been doing Pegasus air launches since 1990 and Stargazer is still in one piece, and yet it is.  :(

Air dropped LV's are challenging but I consider your concerns excessive.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
Stephen Clark‏ @StephenClark1 1m1 minute ago

Virgin Orbit's Dan Hart: Pathfinder for LauncherOne completed in last few weeks, shipping to Mojave for tanking tests. Test flight next yr.

https://twitter.com/StephenClark1/status/907537241819553792

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
Caleb Henry‏ @CHenry_SN 5h5 hours ago

.@Virgin_Orbit talking 24 launches in 2020. Rapidly scaling launch rate.

https://twitter.com/CHenry_SN/status/907533553394733056

Offline Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3886
  • Liked: 1212
  • Likes Given: 1037
Quote
Caleb Henry‏ @CHenry_SN 5h5 hours ago

.@Virgin_Orbit talking 24 launches in 2020. Rapidly scaling launch rate.

https://twitter.com/CHenry_SN/status/907533553394733056

More interesting to me than the supposed rapid growth rate is the launch pattern.
Long ferry flights to remote bases but the launch points are shown as close to the bases.
Moderate inclination, ~30-60 deg, from the east coast, the Cape and Wallops, but not from "KOA" (Kona?)
KOA would seem to include zero, which says these are launch azimuths not inclinations, but that detail is almost irrelevant to missions. 
And the flight paths and IIPs for low inclination from KOA if launched north of east would go over the continental US.  Seems unlikely.
Seems .... unrefined
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
We are thrilled that @SpaceBelt1 has selected #LauncherOne for initial deployment of their constellation! Agreement signed today at #WSBW17
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/907669009553747968

Quote
The @SpaceBelt1 system is a truly secure global data storage network ... in space! They'll start w/ 12 dedicated flights on #LauncherOne
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/907669636040187904


Offline Davidthefat

Quote
We are thrilled that @SpaceBelt1 has selected #LauncherOne for initial deployment of their constellation! Agreement signed today at #WSBW17
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/907669009553747968

Quote
The @SpaceBelt1 system is a truly secure global data storage network ... in space! They'll start w/ 12 dedicated flights on #LauncherOne
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/907669636040187904



I'm not sure how that is any more secure way to store data. Can't anyone listen in on the transmissions, and you are now only relying on the encryption of the data? How is that any different than the current state of the art? Other than in space?

Offline Kabloona

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4025
  • Velocitas Eradico
  • Fortress of Solitude
  • Liked: 2203
  • Likes Given: 445
Quote
Caleb Henry‏ @CHenry_SN 5h5 hours ago

.@Virgin_Orbit talking 24 launches in 2020. Rapidly scaling launch rate.

https://twitter.com/CHenry_SN/status/907533553394733056

And here's his writeup for Space News.

http://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-still-expects-to-fly-twice-a-month-in-2020-despite-delayed-test-campaign/

Offline ThePhugoid

  • Member
  • Posts: 8
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
And the flight paths and IIPs for low inclination from KOA if launched north of east would go over the continental US.  Seems unlikely.
Seems .... unrefined

Not necessarily.  They can also fly over South America.  And in either of those cases (North America or South) the vehicle IIP is moving quickly and corresponds to a small upper stage, which greatly helps the casualty expectation thresholds.  A majority of the regions in South American overflight would also be sparsely populated.

Northern azimuth departures out of KSC to ISS fly over Europe in this sense all the time.  No issues there.

Online Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12571
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 2745
  • Likes Given: 410
http://spaceref.biz/company/cloud-constellation-selects-virgin-orbit-for-spacebelt-initial-constellation-deployment.html

"The initial deployment of the SpaceBelt network will be powered by a dozen ~400 kilogram satellites placed into low inclination orbits. Taking full advantage of LauncherOne as a dedicated launch service for small satellites and as a uniquely flexible service enabled by air-launch, the SpaceBelt constellation will be deployed using single-manifested launches occurring in rapid sequence. The initial launch is expected to occur as early as 2019."
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Online Steven Pietrobon

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12571
  • Adelaide, Australia
    • Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive
  • Liked: 2745
  • Likes Given: 410
I'm not sure how that is any more secure way to store data. Can't anyone listen in on the transmissions, and you are now only relying on the encryption of the data? How is that any different than the current state of the art? Other than in space?

Your data is stored on the satellite and not on the ground where it might be accessed through nefarious means. Laser communications will make it difficult to intercept the data. If they use quantum key encryption, then it will be impossible to crack.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Picture from Virgin’s press release about new contract: https://virg.in/oft

Edit: replaced with higher-res image
« Last Edit: 09/15/2017 06:02 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline TrevorMonty

I'm not sure how that is any more secure way to store data. Can't anyone listen in on the transmissions, and you are now only relying on the encryption of the data? How is that any different than the current state of the art? Other than in space?

Your data is stored on the satellite and not on the ground where it might be accessed through nefarious means. Laser communications will make it difficult to intercept the data. If they use quantum key encryption, then it will be impossible to crack.
Even microwave transmissions are not easy to listen in on. Need to be near receiving station and will only get downlink traffic. Traffic can be split between multiple ground stations around world making one comms session very fragmented for listener.

Safe from earth based natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Vunerable to solar flare but these are rare and data would still be backup on ground.

The same security reasons are why new LEO broadband constellations are appealling to large data companies for direct comms links between databanks.
« Last Edit: 09/15/2017 06:17 PM by TrevorMonty »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
AM Conference Speaker: DMG MORI and Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit and DMG MORI will discuss the aerospace company’s experience as the first adopter of the machine tool manufacturer’s hybrid AM machine.

Blog Post: 9/18/2017
JULIA HIDER
Assistant Editor, Modern Machine Shop

Virgin Orbit’s need to produce critical components for launch vehicles using material combinations such as Inconel with copper alloys led the company to become the first adopter of DMG MORI’s mill-turn-based hybrid AM machine.
Dr. Andrew Duggleby and Kevin Zagorski of Virgin Orbit will join DMG MORI senior vice president Greg Hyatt at the 2017 Additive Manufacturing Conference to give a talk describing Virgin Orbit’s experience as the first customer to implement DMG MORI’s hybrid AM machine. They will also discuss how Virgin Orbit is considering a similar experience in becoming the first adopter of DMG MORI’s robot-based AM machine.
The group presents Wednesday, October 11, at 9:30 a.m.

Register for the Additive Manufacturing Conference here. Already registered? Follow @LearnAdditive on Twitter for the latest updates, and use #additiveconference to join the conversation.

http://www.additivemanufacturing.media/blog/post/am-conference-speaker-dmg-mori-and-virgin-orbit

Online catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4507
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 1396
  • Likes Given: 840
Virgin Orbit - Cosmic Girl Flight Test

Virgin Orbit
Published on Sep 21, 2017


All of our flights to space with LauncherOne will start with our flying launch pad, a Boeing 747-400 named Cosmic Girl. Cosmic Girl is already active in our rigorous flight test program. Recently, our friends at Virgin Galactic captured some fun air-to-air footage of Cosmic Girl in the skies above Mojave. Thanks also to our friends at Virgin Atlantic for taking such great care of Cosmic Girl when she was a baby!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6O0A8qUgaA?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline HVM

  • Member
  • Posts: 87
  • Finland
  • Liked: 84
  • Likes Given: 70
I asked in the last video, will Cosmic Girl carry LOX onboard for Launcher One top off? I know nobody in big channels answers YouTube comments but still. Video was removed and re-uploaded, maybe there was editing error, it looked like exactly same to me...

Offline HVM

  • Member
  • Posts: 87
  • Finland
  • Liked: 84
  • Likes Given: 70
From Brian Lockett's book Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership:

"LOX Top-Off System Automation:

As the NB-52B hauled the X-15 to the launch point, the liquid oxygen in the tank of the X-15 was evaporating. The X-15 liquid oxygen supply was replenished from the tank in the bomb bay of the NB-52B. North American installed instrumentation to automate the operation of the liquid oxygen top-off system in February 1960. Forty-eight man-hours were expended over three days on the installation. A “black box" was mounted on a bulkhead in the bomb bay and its associated wiring was routed through the pressure bulkhead into the lower crew compartment..."

Offline Kryten

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 484
  • Liked: 213
  • Likes Given: 25
 It doesn't sound like it will. From the LO environmental impact report;
Quote
The wing would be modified to carry both the rocket and a removable adapter, which houses the structural release mechanism, and quick release electrical and pneumatic connections to the carrier vehicle. The carrier vehicle provides electrical power, purge gasses, and monitoring and control of the rocket by a launch engineer onboard the carrier vehicle.

Offline Pomerantz

I asked in the last video, will Cosmic Girl carry LOX onboard for Launcher One top off? I know nobody in big channels answers YouTube comments but still. Video was removed and re-uploaded, maybe there was editing error, it looked like exactly same to me...

(Long time lurker, first time poster)

We try to respond to comments and questions even in the treacherous corners of the internet (what could be more treacherous than the comments on YouTube?)--but admittedly, it's at the end of a very long To Do list...

In answer to your main question: no, we do not top-off LOX in flight. To date, there has not been a need for us to do so--we believe we can meet all of the missions on our manifest without LOX top-off.

And in answer to the minor point: there was one shot within the video that somehow got mirror (left to right). We pulled the video to replace that one shot.

Online catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4507
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 1396
  • Likes Given: 840
Virgin Orbit - NewtonFour Hotfire with Gimbal (25 September 2017)

Virgin Orbit
Published on Oct 3, 2017

LauncherOne is powered by two rocket engines—a single NewtonThree on the main stage and a single NewtonFour on the upper stage. Both engines are turbopump-fed, gas generator cycle, LOX/RP-1 engines developed in-house here at Virgin Orbit. In this test, the rocket engine gimbals--in other words, it pivots--over a large range of motion. In flight, gimbaling allows the rocket engine to change the direction of thrust--and thereby steer the rocket. We've added a diagram on the left-hand side of the screen to show the orientation of the engine throughout the test.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYImjgBF2oM?t=001

« Last Edit: 10/04/2017 04:34 AM by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Pomerantz

Typo on the date in the old one! The rest of the video is identical.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
  • the Netherlands
  • Liked: 115
  • Likes Given: 13
Picture from Virgin’s press release about new contract: https://virg.in/oft

Edit: replaced with higher-res image

Launcher one looks aerodynamically quite similar to BV+

Image from Gunter's space page

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3901
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 2570
  • Likes Given: 852
Quote
Fun photo captured by 1 of our engineers last week: Our flying launch pad in the skies above 1 of our rocket engine test stands #LauncherOne

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/919977770444259328

Online catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4507
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 1396
  • Likes Given: 840
Speaker Slide Presentation: Our Purpose – A Spaceline for Earth (w/audio)

ISPCS .com
Published on Oct 17, 2017

Mike Moses, President, Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is committed to not just building and flying a single spaceship, we are building a fleet of ships to carry people and payloads to suborbital space. This Spaceline will provide life-changing experiences for our customers and give us the momentum to evolve personal spaceflight in the future. We will look into the purpose of that Spaceline – as well as the progress of the current flight test program and our progress on building the next vehicles that will make up the heart of the Virgin Galactic Spaceline.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv-7LyPuvGs?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline Craftyatom

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
  • Software!
  • Arizona, USA
  • Liked: 234
  • Likes Given: 1322
Speaker Slide Presentation: Our Purpose – A Spaceline for Earth (w/audio)

Those were some interesting short videos (with a lot of good test-firing footage), but I will warn future viewers that the audio quality is horrendous.
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Tags: