Author Topic: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future  (Read 17207 times)

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   

Offline ringsider

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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 »

Online Kryten

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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!

Online gongora

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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

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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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.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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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.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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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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