Author Topic: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future  (Read 170911 times)

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #440 on: 10/23/2019 08:25 am »
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Virgin Orbit
25,196 followers
13h · Edited

We appreciate the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)'s leadership in constructing the Launch Challenge and we remain very supportive of the underlying goals of the competition.   However, after comparing DARPA’s requested timeline with our commitments to our commercial and government customers, we have elected to withdraw from the competition.

Our focus remains on completing our final engineering demonstrations and on serving the customers already on our launch manifest. The market is actively validating the need for responsive, dedicated launch and we are hard at work serving those customers and bringing a new capability into service in the coming months.

With flight hardware already in position at our first launch site and with both technical and regulatory work well underway at several more launch sites, we believe we are on track to meeting the goals shared by Virgin Orbit, VOX Space, and the DARPA team.

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/virgin-orbit_we-appreciate-the-defense-advanced-research-activity-6592491276439035905-q3Z3/

Offline PM3

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #441 on: 10/25/2019 03:00 pm »
Kickstage for interplanetary missions!

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Virgin Orbit, while preparing for the first flight of its LauncherOne smallsat rocket, is in the process of choosing an engine for a three-stage variant that would be capable of sending payloads to other planets.

https://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-to-add-extra-rocket-stage-to-launcherone-for-interplanetary-missions/
« Last Edit: 10/25/2019 03:01 pm by PM3 »
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #442 on: 10/31/2019 04:52 pm »
twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/1189957117874032642

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A long day of testing in the Mojave Desert concludes with a *chef's kiss* beautiful sunset over our test stands.

Here are a few shots from our ongoing check-outs and procedure rehearsals ahead of our orbital test flight.

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/1189957309365014528

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Most recently, we've been focused on "cryo shock" testing, where we subject the rocket to cryogenic conditions to check for leaks or other anomalies.❄️

For more info on why we test ⏩

Offline harrystranger

Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #443 on: 11/01/2019 06:15 am »
It can be really hard to interpret satellite imagery! Local knowledge & an understanding of an area’s history are crucial pieces of the puzzle.
- Rob Simmon

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #444 on: 11/02/2019 04:35 am »
Re interplanetary service:

twitter.com/falcongridfin/status/1190324714910232586

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What kind of third stage will this system use? Something pre-existing or built in-house?

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/1190331600715665408

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We have multiple options for an upper stage that can support these kinds of missions, and we will select one based on our customer’s requirements. More details forthcoming soon!

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #445 on: 11/02/2019 04:38 am »
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EXPANDING OUR ORBIT
OCTOBER 31, 2019

As we entered into the new millennium, bright innovators started harnessing improvements in technology to squeeze more and more capabilities into smaller satellite payloads. Due to their low cost and short manufacturing times, these early smallsats were an excellent educational tool for university students. These days, the world can see that small satellites are transforming the way we approach almost all of our activities in space. And what’s more, inventive minds are devising new ways to use this technology to accomplish ever bigger and bolder missions.

Now, that even includes missions to deep space.

In May 2018, NASA’s InSight mission launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to begin its long, 35 million-mile journey to the Red Planet. The InSight lander is a marvelous piece of technology, enabling us to learn more about Mars’ weather, surface and subsurface than ever before. But what really caught our attention was the lander’s tiny escorts — a pair of briefcase-sized communications spacecraft known collectively as Mars Cube One (MarCO). 

When InSight burst through Mars’ upper atmosphere at more than 12,000 miles per hour, it was MarCO-A and MarCO-B that filled a critical communications gap by relaying the lander’s data all the way back to Earth. For the first time, humans had used CubeSat technology for an interplanetary mission, and it was wildly successful (and cost-effective, to boot). You couldn’t ask for a better experimental demonstration.

Watching MarCO got us thinking — and our customers, too. That inspiration dovetailed with a steady stream of interest we’ve gotten from customers interested in using smallsats to support the renewed interest in the exploration of the Moon. That led us to think about whether LauncherOne would be able to send payloads large enough to be meaningful to places beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

As it turns out, the answer is yes. With the addition of a third stage housed within the rocket’s fairing, LauncherOne can send cutting-edge satellites on a ride past LEO into deep space. We’ve run the numbers, and we think we’ve got a solid engineering plan for ways to use a third stage to launch payloads not only into LEO, MEO, and GEO, but even towards the Moon, any of the Earth-Moon LaGrange points, various main-belt asteroids, Venus, or Mars.

With this simple adaptation, LauncherOne unlocks the ability to deliver enough mass to interplanetary destinations to conduct some really valuable smallsat missions, whether that’s studying the potential for extraterrestrial life or learning more about the chemical composition of far-flung worlds.

We’re thrilled to announce this new capability in support of our first interplanetary mission, which we unveiled earlier this month. This consortium is an important first step toward something the world has yet to see: a dedicated commercial small satellite mission to Mars.

And based on the interest we’ve seen since, similarly-sized missions to Venus and to asteroids like 433 Eros or even larger missions to the Moon won’t be far behind.

It’s inspiring to see NewSpace companies like SatRevolution pave the way forward with their ambitions for deep space small satellite missions. Our goal is to ensure their ideas and business plans aren’t throttled by a lack of affordable launch options.

We love to see these new and inspiring ideas. Satellite innovators of the world, keep them coming! Although we suspect the overwhelming number of our flights will be putting satellites into Earth orbit, we’re inspired to see the horizon extending out further than it ever has before. As our customers raise the bar on what they hope to achieve with small satellites, we’re gearing up to do exactly the same.

https://virginorbit.com/expanding-our-orbit/

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #446 on: 12/19/2019 10:57 pm »

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #447 on: 12/19/2019 11:04 pm »
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IN ONE YEAR AND OUT THE OTHER

DECEMBER 19, 2019

2019 has been one hell of a year for the Virgin Orbit crew. We entered this year with a brilliant team and a lot of cool technology — but there were some really big milestones we still had yet to cross. 12 months ago, we hadn’t yet qualified an engine for flight. We hadn’t yet fired our main stage.  We had mountains of simulations for how to fly, but hadn’t run though a full mission sequence in software, much less done so with a fully integrated rocket on the test stand. And we hadn’t actually taken off with a fully loaded rocket strapped to its wing. 

As of today, we’ve done all of that and so, so much more. We aced a series of progressively challenging test flights, culminating in a hugely successful drop test over Edwards Air Force Base. We’ve completed hundreds of hotfires on our main stage engine, NewtonThree, and hundreds more on our upper stage engine, Newton Four. We’ve had moments of great triumph after picture-perfect tests — and, as comes with the territory, we’ve had days where Murphy’s law taught us a few new lessons.

At the beginning of 2019, we set some extremely ambitious goals for a company that was barely two years old: to fully qualify our “flying launch site,” to convert our Long Beach headquarters from an R&D facility into a high-rate production factory, and to conduct our first demonstration launch. As bold as those goals seemed — each of those three projects historically take companies many years to do — we came damn close to actually pulling it off. Our flying launch site is indeed ready to go, and our factory is now full of flight hardware for a half-dozen rockets and breakthrough automation to help us build more.

Most recently, we delivered a beautiful, flight-worthy rocket to the launch site after qualifying a boat-load of components and fielding a state-of-the-art launch control system. But with the clock winding down on December, we’re not quite ready to check off that third and most ambitious goal.

Thankfully, everything that we’ve accomplished in recent months has placed us in prime position for an imminent orbital demo flight. So here’s what to expect in the coming weeks as we push to close out our first launch campaign.

In our most recent update, we mentioned that we were driving through final procedure rehearsals. We’re coming up on the tail end of that, having completed multiple propellant load cycles and pressurization testing on the orbital test rocket while working around the clock at our Mojave operations site. We’ve pushed our system to ensure it is ready for flight, and our team has driven hard to lock down the procedures that keep our operations safe and smooth. With each repetition, our countdown has become more synced and repeatable.

Now, we’re getting ready to shift all of our operations to the customized 747 that serves as our fully mobile launch site. Parked at “the hammerhead,” a part of the taxiway adjoining the primary runway at the Mojave Air and Spaceport, we’ll do the final mate of the rocket to Cosmic Girl and run through our rehearsals again.

In January, we plan to have Chief Test Pilot Kelly Latimer and the rest of our flight crew guide us through one more taxi test with the mated rocket and an additional captive carry test with our orbital flight hardware. Then, we’ll be ready to light this candle and conduct our launch demonstration.

For years, everything’s been building: our team, our market, our technical expertise, and our enthusiasm. As 2019 draws to a close, we’re stronger and smarter than we’ve ever been before, and feeling ready to rock. To stay in the loop, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.

https://virginorbit.com/in-one-year-and-out-the-other/
« Last Edit: 12/19/2019 11:05 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Online ParabolicSnark

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #448 on: 12/27/2019 03:28 pm »
Dan Hart and his team has a tendency to drastically underestimate the scope of work involved in a test campaign (in this case a launch day rehearsal of fill/drain operations). What he calls "ready for flight in 2 weeks" is probably closer to 2 months. I'm tacking on another 2 months for the work to complete the remaining work on the vehicle, 747, launch support systems that were ignored for this press release (or to actually complete the work that the teams pretended was complete to appease Dan's schedule).



Case in point. At time step 1:40 in their 2019 video they show the "complete" flight rocket undergoing launch day rehearsals. The aft end of the vehicle is closed out with engine, thermal blank, aft fairing and fins, and...one turbine exhaust duct and nozzle. The Newton Three engine has two turbopumps, each with their own duct and nozzle (see hotfires earlier in the video). They'll have to do at least some disassembly to remove the thermal blank and that "bump out" on the bottom of the aft fairing to get enough access to install that piece.

I guess at least its the port-side nozzle which is the fixed one and not the starboard-side nozzle which has the articulating joint (which would also have hydraulic/pneumatic hookups for a roll control actuator).

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #449 on: 03/03/2020 08:52 am »
https://twitter.com/kevzag/status/1234649698109022209

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Happy Monday.

Here's a NewtonFour 🚀 engine test.

(📷: @Virgin_Orbit)

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Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
« Reply #450 on: 03/03/2020 07:34 pm »
Higher res version of earlier photo plus another:

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/1234936330632613888

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There's something particularly magical about nighttime hotfires in the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert! 🌙

Illuminating the test stand here is our NewtonFour engine, which powers LauncherOne's upper stage.
« Last Edit: 03/03/2020 07:35 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

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