Author Topic: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future  (Read 17206 times)

Online 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

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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

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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!

Online abaddon

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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

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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?

Online abaddon

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
I know they don't need it, but Crossfeed would be super cool.

Offline Kabloona

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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.

Online Kryten

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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

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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 »
I know they don't need it, but Crossfeed would be super cool.

Online abaddon

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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...

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Online Kryten

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Offline HMXHMX

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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 »
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Offline Comga

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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

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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.

Online 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   

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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 »

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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!

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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

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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

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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 »

Offline ringsider

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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 »

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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

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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

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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

Online 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.

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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.

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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 »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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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.

Offline Lars-J

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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 »

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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...

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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.)

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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 »

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