NASASpaceFlight.com Forum

Commercial and US Government Launch Vehicles => Virgin Orbit/Virgin Galactic => Topic started by: Chris Bergin on 06/30/2016 12:40 PM

Title: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 06/30/2016 12:40 PM
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:
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Longhorn John 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: KEdward5 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!
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: abaddon 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Comga 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: abaddon 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Seattle Dave on 06/30/2016 04:25 PM
They are a lot further along than Stratolaunch, that we can be sure.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Comga on 06/30/2016 10:17 PM
They are a lot further along than Stratolaunch, that we can be sure.

That's faint praise. ;)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: jongoff 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: wannamoonbase 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Kabloona 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Kryten 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).
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: wannamoonbase 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: abaddon 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...
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: starchasercowboy 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Comga 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: mfck 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?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: joek 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 (https://www.orbitalatk.com/flight-systems/space-launch-vehicles/pegasus/docs/Pegasus_UsersGuide.pdf)...
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Steven Pietrobon 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Nibb31 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: jongoff 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: mfck 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?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: dwheeler 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 (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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Kryten 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 (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?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: jongoff 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: joek 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 (http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=edbcb4c11a15976280aa060e93d84ac7&mc=true&node=pt14.4.420&rgn=div5).  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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Comga 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?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: joek 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: CameronD 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 (http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=edbcb4c11a15976280aa060e93d84ac7&mc=true&node=pt14.4.420&rgn=div5).  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.

Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: HMXHMX 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 (http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=edbcb4c11a15976280aa060e93d84ac7&mc=true&node=pt14.4.420&rgn=div5).  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. 
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: CameronD 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: russianhalo117 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Zed_Noir 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 (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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: fthomassy 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: jongoff 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: HMXHMX 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Comga 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: jongoff 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: RonM 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: longboard1210 on 07/06/2016 08:58 PM
Just spitballing but would they not try to use the old shuttle abort airstrips? extra long runways and most are not commercial?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: CyndyC on 07/07/2016 03:44 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Comga 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: baldusi 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 09/12/2016 05:19 PM
FOR  RELEASE  Ė     SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

VIRGIN GALACTIC ANNOUNCES SKY AND SPACE GLOBAL AS NEWEST LAUNCHERONE CUSTOMER

Signed Launch Services Agreement for Four Dedicated Missions

LauncherOneís First Ever Low Inclination Launches

Paris, France - September 12 2016 Ė 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 Globalís 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 locationsóincluding 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 Globalís 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 companyís 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: ďHaving a 747 as our flying launch site means that LauncherOne can tailor each mission to suit each customer. Weíve 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. Weíre 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.Ē

 

Sky and Space Global CEO Meir Moalem added: ďWe are thrilled to partner with Virgin Galactic on our exciting missions and LauncherOneís 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 Galacticís LauncherOne and its operational flexibility and are excited to work together to change the world for good.Ē

 

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   
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider 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:

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ClgIKeBVYAECel_.jpg:large)

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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Kryten 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!
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 01/10/2017 08:42 PM
Tweet from Jeff Foust: (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/818929012718313473)
Quote
Anna Stark, NASA Venture Class Launch Services project mgr: targeting December 2017 for VCLS launch of Virgin Galacticís Launcher One.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Star One on 01/10/2017 08:53 PM
Quote
Jeff Foust Ė  ‏@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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 01/13/2017 06:42 PM
LauncherOne FAA environmental impact notice and assessment are out (attached).
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider 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:-

(http://i.imgur.com/ivXgWzq.png)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/829068417759973376)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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 (https://twitter.com/stephenclark1/status/829068516670185472)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 02/13/2017 04:54 PM
Quote
Our #LauncherOne team continues to advance our rocket engines work. Hereís a recent long duration, full thrust NewtonThree test. 73,500 lbf!

https://twitter.com/virgingalactic/status/831196868520468480 (https://twitter.com/virgingalactic/status/831196868520468480)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/02/2017 11:12 AM
Related - Virgin Orbit:

FOR  RELEASE  Ė     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 Ė March 2, 2017Ė 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 Orbitís 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 companyís satellite programs for the US government and several allied countries. As Boeingís 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 Groupís 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 Mexicoís 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 vehicleóhaving already conducted long duration, full thrust firings of both of LauncherOneís engines, cryogenic tank tests, and hardware-in-the-loop testing of the vehicleís avionics.

 

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson: ďIt 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. Iím 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.Ē

 

Galactic Ventures CEO George T. Whitesides: ďVirgin 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.Ē

 

Virgin Orbit President Dan Hart: ďThe 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, Iíve 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 Orbitís 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 Orbitís flexible, affordable, and reliable launch service.Ē

 

For more information and media inquiries:

 

http://www.image.net/virgingalactic

http://www.virgingalactic.com 

UK inquiries: [email protected]

NON UK inquiries: [email protected]

 

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 companiesóVirgin Galactic and The Spaceship Companyóare 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 customerís needs. Virgin Orbitís systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbitís talented and growing team, visit virginorbit.com.

 

ABOUT VIRGIN GALACTIC

Virgin Galactic is the worldís first commercial spaceline. Founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, Virgin Galactic and its sister companiesóVirgin 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 Galacticís manufacturing wing, The Spaceship Company. Commercial operations will be based in New Mexico at Spaceport America, the worldís first purpose-built commercial spaceport. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Galacticís talented and growing team, visit virgingalactic.com.

 

ABOUT THE SPACESHIP COMPANY

The Spaceship Company is Virgin Galacticís 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 Galacticís 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 customersí needs. The Spaceship Companyís 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 Companyís talented and growing team, visit thespaceshipcompany.com.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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/ (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. ďWeíre well through development of all major subsystems,Ē including the engines that will power the two-stage rocket, the vehicleís 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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 (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 (http://aviationweek.com/space/new-virgin-orbit-formed-lead-smallsat-launch-vehicle)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 03/05/2017 02:27 AM
Here's the image without any writing.
Title: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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 (https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/838836577577095169)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: envy887 on 03/06/2017 08:52 PM
Closeups of the interstage, fairings, and S2 LOX tank and skirt. 151 lbm for the interstage :D
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 03/08/2017 07:25 PM
Love the high quality plywood work stands...
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: SDSmith on 03/08/2017 09:15 PM
Love the high quality plywood work stands...
And the padding on the supporting frames.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: HMXHMX 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. 
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider 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...
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: HMXHMX 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.)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Hobbes-22 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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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 (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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 03/14/2017 07:21 PM
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/841730997200740352 (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?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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 (https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/842144666959011841)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: zotiraki 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: brickmack 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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 (https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/846464634026524672)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/02/2017 09:17 AM
George Whitesides was interviewed on TMRO yesterday. Interview starts at about 20:50 into the show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzR8yh34EBE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzR8yh34EBE)

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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist 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 (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.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: jongoff 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
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/04/2017 07:41 AM
Quote
Auction alert: Virgin Orbit donated a behind-the-scenes look at their rocket factory for the winner and 5 guests! http://buff.ly/2pFjazM

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

I like the first picture with this tweet:
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 05/07/2017 11:23 AM
Added "Orbit" to the thread title given they are going with that on most comments now.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/17/2017 03:09 PM
Added "Orbit" to the thread title given they are going with that on most comments now.

And here's their new logo to go with the new name.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/18/2017 06:20 AM
Quote
We love our team, and we love our rocket. Seeing our new logo on #LauncherOne calls for a cheer (led [email protected])
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/864959562163539968 (https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/864959562163539968)

Quote
Hardware is coming together.  Nice to see the fairing halves fastened together.
https://twitter.com/gtwhitesides/status/864960779593818112 (https://twitter.com/gtwhitesides/status/864960779593818112)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/20/2017 03:16 PM
Quote
wpomerantz6+ years ago, I joined Virgin Galactic as VP of Special Projects. One of my main jobs was to help the company expand to new projects, new technologies, and new markets. I'll admit I was initially a bit skeptical about one of the ideas right at the top of the list--a small satellite launch service. But, I put skepticism aside, led the study, and happily, my initial skepticism was overcome--and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Now, we've hired a team, moved into a factory, raised money, signed up customers, tested lots of hardware, and built rockets. I'm damn proud to be a part of this Virgin Orbit team!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BUUWm_MBf9R/ (https://www.instagram.com/p/BUUWm_MBf9R/)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: edkyle99 on 05/20/2017 03:46 PM
Looks like insulation added to the tank exteriors.  This one is going to be tested somehow.  I wonder if it is a prototype or a flight vehicle.

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

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: matthewkantar on 05/20/2017 04:15 PM
Looks like insulation added to the tank exteriors.  This one is going to be tested somehow.  I wonder if it is a prototype or a flight vehicle.

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

 - Ed Kyle

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

Matthew
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 05/20/2017 09:26 PM


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

This is exactly why launching horizontal with cryofluids is dumb as a box of rocks.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 05/20/2017 10:58 PM
Looks like insulation added to the tank exteriors.  This one is going to be tested somehow.  I wonder if it is a prototype or a flight vehicle.

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

 - Ed Kyle

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

Matthew

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

And the longer they use it, the cheaper the cost will be, assuming the LOX loading bugs are worked out.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: edkyle99 on 05/21/2017 12:14 AM


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

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

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: jongoff on 05/21/2017 04:22 AM


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

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

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

~Jon
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: GClark on 05/21/2017 05:11 AM
IIRC of the four rocketplane explosions, three (X-1A, X-1D, X-2#2) happened in the air.

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

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

Most of what I've read discusses the ground loading procedures, noting how time-consuming they were etc.  None of them ever talk about any in-air difficulties per se.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/22/2017 08:10 PM
Clearer shot of the rocket from Virgin.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/24/2017 08:11 PM
New Virgin Orbit promo; some interesting factory shots:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmJijPGwlF4 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmJijPGwlF4)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/26/2017 06:28 PM
Quote
We put our parts through hell on the ground before flight.  E.g. here's us prepping a full-scale 1st stage dev LOX tank for structural test

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/868163697239371781 (https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/868163697239371781)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 06/13/2017 03:29 AM
Virgin Orbit - NewtonThree Hotfire (5 June 2017)

Virgin Orbit
Published on Jun 12, 2017


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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqOzNDYr83s
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 06/13/2017 03:31 AM
Virgin Orbit - "Boost Imagination" Team Event

Virgin Orbit
Published on Jun 12, 2017


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

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

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

Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: AncientU on 06/13/2017 02:47 PM
Vertical integration is spreading...

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

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

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

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

https://qz.com/1003876/virgin-orbits-newly-minted-ceo-will-use-psychology-to-launch-satellites-faster-than-anyone-else/
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/14/2017 01:01 PM
Quote
Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust 13m13 minutes ago

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

Quote
Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust 12m12 minutes ago

Skrobotís schedule shown here includes a Rocket Lab Electron launch NET Nov 2017, and a Virgin Orbit LauncherOne flight NET Dec 2017.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/874971400100089857 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/874971400100089857)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/15/2017 07:34 AM
Quote
David Caponio, Virgin Orbit: 747 carrier aircraft in the final phases of modifications, and should be done in the next month.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/875048061654970370 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/875048061654970370)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 06/16/2017 05:08 PM
[Aviation Week] Virgin Orbit Nears ĎPathfinderí LauncherOne Completion (http://aviationweek.com/space/virgin-orbit-nears-pathfinder-launcherone-completion)
Quote
Completion of the initial launch vehicle at Virgin Orbitís Long Beach, California, facility comes as the company accelerates assembly work on a further three rockets for test and initial development flights...Pathfinder will be used for ground evaluations as well as captive carry testing beneath the left wing of the 747 carrier aircraft.

Good summary of current progress on engines/etc. in the article.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 06/21/2017 11:30 PM
Tweets from Jeff Foust (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/877615266410180608):
Quote
Richard Dalbello, Virgin Galactic:will be a role for both small launchers like LauncherOne as well as big vehicles. Notes, in passing, a $12M price point for L1.
Dalbello: expect to see customers for whom schedule, not price, is a key factor, thus more interested in dedicated launch vs rideshare.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 06/24/2017 10:21 AM
Just out of interest, how many operational air-launch orbital launchers are there, vs how many vertical?

I only know one operational air-launch, Pegasus from Orbital ATK, are there more? I would guess there must be approx 15-20 vertical orbital launchers in operation.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 07/07/2017 07:29 PM
https://twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/883395032388050946
Quote
Virgin Orbit‏ @Virgin_Orbit
By popular demand: here's a video of a recent, 6-minute-long test of our NewtonFour (upper stage) rocket engine.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGZF4o-gwHk

 :)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: whitelancer64 on 07/07/2017 07:57 PM
Just out of interest, how many operational air-launch orbital launchers are there, vs how many vertical?

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

Only Pegasus is operational.

There are a few others that are in development. Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne and Stratolaunch are the only two that are anywhere near being operational, and Stratolaunch doesn't have its own rocket yet, as of now it would launch Pegasus.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: envy887 on 07/08/2017 02:57 AM
Just out of interest, how many operational air-launch orbital launchers are there, vs how many vertical?

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

Only Pegasus is operational.

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

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

I think of those only Pegasus is air-launched.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 07/08/2017 05:18 AM
Virgin Orbit - NewtonFour Hotfire (29 June 2017)

Virgin Orbit
Published on Jul 7, 2017


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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGZF4o-gwHk
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 07/26/2017 06:58 PM
Quote
1/2 @Virgin_Orbit #LauncherOne: Final Env. Assessment & Finding of No Significant Impact for @MojaveAirport launches https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-07-26/html/2017-15702.htm
https://twitter.com/ac_charania/status/890283913733578752

Quote
2/2 @Virgin_Orbit #LauncherOne: Final Env. Assessment & FONSI for @MojaveAirport launches; full PDF document: faa.gov/about/office_oÖ
https://twitter.com/ac_charania/status/890284214280519680
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: starchasercowboy on 07/27/2017 06:10 PM
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 07/28/2017 04:28 AM
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

Nice! Are there pics?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: cwr on 07/28/2017 05:13 AM
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

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

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

Carl
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 07/28/2017 06:16 AM
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

Nice! Are there pics?

Quote
Air-Launch Awesome: 747-400 carrier aircraft #CosmicGirl for @Virgin_Orbit #LauncherOne arrived today at @MojaveAirport via @ShorealoneFilms
https://twitter.com/ac_charania/status/890708601982955520
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 07/29/2017 03:36 PM
Quote
Virgin Orbit will land its flying launchpad Ė ĎCosmic girlí Ė in Long Beach Monday

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

http://www.presstelegram.com/business/20170728/virgin-orbit-will-land-its-flying-launchpad-cosmic-girl-in-long-beach-monday (http://www.presstelegram.com/business/20170728/virgin-orbit-will-land-its-flying-launchpad-cosmic-girl-in-long-beach-monday)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: john smith 19 on 07/29/2017 04:42 PM
Cosmic Girl just landed in Mojave.  Now Mojave has 3 airlaunch vehicles on the ground.  Stargazer is not alone any more!

Nice! Are there pics?

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

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

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

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

It's been a long time coming but this looks like it's finally starting to close in on a first launch. 
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ncb1397 on 07/29/2017 04:54 PM

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

Like comparing the cost per kg of shipping by motorcycle vs semi-truck.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: john smith 19 on 07/30/2017 11:12 AM

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

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

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

In principal LO seems to be a bit higher performance, and its liquid fuel engines could (in principal) allow throttling and coasting, giving higher precision orbital injection. The liquid fuel HAPS only seems to be useful for very high altitude (1400Km+) orbits. It would quite impressive if the 2 stage LO could outperform the 4 stage Pegasus with HAPS.   
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 08/01/2017 09:03 AM
Cosmic Girl arrival in Long Beach

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

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

Quote
Long Beach Mayor‏ @LongBeachMayor 9h9 hours ago

The future of aerospace is here at Virgin Orbit in Long Beach 🚀
https://twitter.com/LongBeachMayor/status/892176222037331968
Title: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Star One on 08/01/2017 11:42 AM
Virgin Orbit Readies For Boeing 747 'Cosmic Girl' Flight Test Build-Up

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

http://m.aviationweek.com/space/virgin-orbit-readies-boeing-747-cosmic-girl-flight-test-build
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 08/02/2017 01:58 PM
Quote
Virgin Orbit plans 2018 first launch
by Jeff Foust ó August 2, 2017

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

http://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-plans-2018-first-launch/ (http://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-plans-2018-first-launch/)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 08/02/2017 02:00 PM
Video has shots inside the aircraft, including the flight deck:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrQQKgjhNCw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrQQKgjhNCw)

Quote
Published on 1 Aug 2017

Welcome Home, Cosmic Girl!

On July 31, 2017 Virgin Orbitís 747-400 named Cosmic Girl, touched down for the first time in Long Beach Airport. For our airport neighbors, it was a rare sighting of a 747 -- and a mobile rocket launcher at that. For Virgin Orbit employees and supporters, including Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, the homecoming marked the completion of significant modification work that enables her to launch rockets for our satellite customers.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 08/03/2017 06:58 AM
Above video link is dead. Here is the new link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBgbiPTIXI0
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 08/08/2017 02:01 PM
Quote
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/894731281627361280Hot off the presses for #SmallSat2017, check out our new Service Guide. All you need to know to fly on #LauncherOne. virg.in/guide2017

Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 08/10/2017 10:00 PM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 08/11/2017 04:12 PM
Virgin Orbit sign SITAEL contract for LauncherOne satellite launch:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/08/virgin-orbit-sitael-launch-contract/
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 08/11/2017 05:59 PM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

Why are you not a fan of the concept?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 08/11/2017 08:13 PM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

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

But as I said I actually have a lot of respect for the way they are going about it, despite my preferences. I have nothing bad to say about Virgin Orbit, they are professional and serious.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: russianhalo117 on 08/11/2017 08:20 PM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

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

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

Air launch for a Pegasus is much cheaper and easier than using its ground equivalent Minotaur-C.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: envy887 on 08/12/2017 12:10 AM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

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

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

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

Minotaur gives triple the Pegasus payload for slightly more cost. An equivalent payload first stage might be cheaper than air-launch.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/12/2017 07:02 PM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

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

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

Time will tell which system is better.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 08/12/2017 10:19 PM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

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

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

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

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

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

There is a reason so few horizontals have been built.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 08/13/2017 06:28 AM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

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

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

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

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

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

There is a reason so few horizontals have been built.

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

Safety is certainly a real difference. Of course people fly on rockets too so it's just a matter of redundancy.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 08/13/2017 07:28 AM
Cosmic Girl had a full D check before being allowed to be put to this use by the FAA, and then a conversion which probably includes some kind of fuelling / dumping system inside the plane as well as the attach / release mechanisms. None of that is trivial. So there is that cost and complexity to be considered up front.

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

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

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

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

Again I am not knocking Virgin Orbit, I am sure they have plans, just outlining my views on the challenges of air launch.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 08/13/2017 07:30 PM
Cosmic Girl had a full D check before being allowed to be put to this use by the FAA, and then a conversion which probably includes some kind of fuelling / dumping system inside the plane as well as the attach / release mechanisms. None of that is trivial. So there is that cost and complexity to be considered up front.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know you aren't knocking Virgin Orbit, you always seem to have good comments so I enjoy your perspective.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 08/13/2017 08:39 PM
By no means am I saying the costs are trivial but neither are the costs of building/refurbing a launch pad. According to Wikipedia SpaceX spent $20-30 million for their Vandenberg pad and $5-$10 million a year in maintenance. That's just for one pad, to hit low and high inclination orbits you'd need two.

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

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

Mainly risk. That is a 30-35 ton vehicle under the wing, I'm not sure it's clever or allowable to land in the main gear with that fully tanked. They may have a pumping solution to fuel/defuel it in flight, I don't know, but it's a complex process whatever they do.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/14/2017 12:51 AM
In RL case I don't think actual launch pad facilities construction was much more difficult than expected. More likely it was local roading upgrade required and ground work.

 "I know more about gravel compaction and aggregate size than I ever wanted to know in my life," says Beck.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ppb on 08/17/2017 05:12 AM
Not a big fan of the Virgin Orbit concept but I have to say I really respect their commitment to getting it done. The picture of the number of staff is phenomenal, there must be 300-400 people in that shot. It may be partially marketing, like all Virgin activities, but behind it is a really serious company.

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

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

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

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

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

There is a reason so few horizontals have been built.

You identified the number one reason this concept is a bad idea.  It's repeating the Space Shuttle mistake all over again:  unnecessarily risking people to launch unmanned payloads into orbit.  Almost every rocket design has had a RUD event near the launch point at some time in its history, some sooner than others.  Take a good look at the Cosmic Girl-- when that event inevitably happens to Launcher One, that will be the end of the Girl and the poor crewmen whose number came up that day.  Probably the end of Virgin Orbit as well.  All for some range flexibility and questionable decrease in price.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: GClark on 08/18/2017 07:18 AM
Wow, you're right.  We've never succeeded at this before.  Why, remember all those X-15s that RUD'd, sending those B-52's crashing to Earth and killing the crews.

/sarc
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: TrevorMonty on 08/18/2017 08:06 AM
RUD typically happen after  engines are light by which time carry aircaft would be will clear.

F9 US explosion on pad being one of few exceptions.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Bananas_on_Mars on 08/18/2017 07:31 PM
Even Virgin's L1 flight schedule acknowledges this (I posted it here a few months ago), with a ratio of aborts to successful launches. Imagine if they have to abort mid-air - what do they do with the liquid oxygen and extra RP-1 in the LV? Can't land with that for sure, so will dumping of large amounts of RP-1 into the Pacific or desert become SOP after an abort? How do you safely vent RP-1 and LOX at 500knots?
Since RP-1 is just a "purer" standard for kerosene, you can pump it into the normal airplanes tanks if necessary.
And dumping of kerosene is kind of standard emergency procedure for airplanes. Not nice, but most of it should evaporate before it hits the ground.

Dumping LOX should be a nobrainer in my opinion.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: meekGee on 08/19/2017 04:49 PM
Even Virgin's L1 flight schedule acknowledges this (I posted it here a few months ago), with a ratio of aborts to successful launches. Imagine if they have to abort mid-air - what do they do with the liquid oxygen and extra RP-1 in the LV? Can't land with that for sure, so will dumping of large amounts of RP-1 into the Pacific or desert become SOP after an abort? How do you safely vent RP-1 and LOX at 500knots?
Since RP-1 is just a "purer" standard for kerosene, you can pump it into the normal airplanes tanks if necessary.
And dumping of kerosene is kind of standard emergency procedure for airplanes. Not nice, but most of it should evaporate before it hits the ground.

Dumping LOX should be a nobrainer in my opinion.

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

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

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

---

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

As long as the rocket is far enough away when the ignition sequence starts, I think it's ok.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: edkyle99 on 08/19/2017 10:15 PM
Wow, you're right.  We've never succeeded at this before.  Why, remember all those X-15s that RUD'd, sending those B-52's crashing to Earth and killing the crews.

/sarc

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

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

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: GClark on 08/20/2017 08:15 AM
Four actually - X-1D, X-1#3, X-2#1, and X-1A (in that order).  All were lost to the same root cause.

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

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

I disagree with the way it was being characterized - it is inevitable, the launch aircraft will be destroyed and people will die, therefore it is too dangerous and shouldn't be done.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/06/2017 05:03 AM
Quote
[email protected]_Orbit #LauncherOne 30 sec test of NewtonFour 5klbf LOX/RP upper stage engine (1st night test; Aug 29, 2017) instagram.com/p/BYrH9PZgu-D

https://twitter.com/ac_charania/status/905201873703104514
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/06/2017 05:06 AM
Quote
We are now cleared to test our rocket engines during the night shift! More time = more testing. Thanks to @MojaveAirport & @kerncountyfire

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/905210196208656384
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/06/2017 05:32 PM
You identified the number one reason this concept is a bad idea.  It's repeating the Space Shuttle mistake all over again:  unnecessarily risking people to launch unmanned payloads into orbit.  Almost every rocket design has had a RUD event near the launch point at some time in its history, some sooner than others.  Take a good look at the Cosmic Girl-- when that event inevitably happens to Launcher One, that will be the end of the Girl and the poor crewmen whose number came up that day.  Probably the end of Virgin Orbit as well.  All for some range flexibility and questionable decrease in price.
From a certain angle this really does sound like concern trolling.

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

Air dropped LV's are challenging but I consider your concerns excessive.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/12/2017 09:34 AM
Quote
Stephen Clark‏ @StephenClark1 1m1 minute ago

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

https://twitter.com/StephenClark1/status/907537241819553792 (https://twitter.com/StephenClark1/status/907537241819553792)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/12/2017 02:19 PM
Quote
Caleb Henry‏ @CHenry_SN 5h5 hours ago

[email protected]_Orbit talking 24 launches in 2020. Rapidly scaling launch rate.

https://twitter.com/CHenry_SN/status/907533553394733056 (https://twitter.com/CHenry_SN/status/907533553394733056)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Comga on 09/12/2017 03:05 PM
Quote
Caleb Henry‏ @CHenry_SN 5h5 hours ago

[email protected]_Orbit talking 24 launches in 2020. Rapidly scaling launch rate.

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

More interesting to me than the supposed rapid growth rate is the launch pattern.
Long ferry flights to remote bases but the launch points are shown as close to the bases.
Moderate inclination, ~30-60 deg, from the east coast, the Cape and Wallops, but not from "KOA" (Kona?)
KOA would seem to include zero, which says these are launch azimuths not inclinations, but that detail is almost irrelevant to missions. 
And the flight paths and IIPs for low inclination from KOA if launched north of east would go over the continental US.  Seems unlikely.
Seems .... unrefined
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/12/2017 06:28 PM
Quote
We are thrilled that @SpaceBelt1 has selected #LauncherOne for initial deployment of their constellation! Agreement signed today at #WSBW17
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/907669009553747968

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URBb_FbBr_8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URBb_FbBr_8)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Davidthefat on 09/12/2017 07:59 PM
Quote
We are thrilled that @SpaceBelt1 has selected #LauncherOne for initial deployment of their constellation! Agreement signed today at #WSBW17
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/907669009553747968

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URBb_FbBr_8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URBb_FbBr_8)

I'm not sure how that is any more secure way to store data. Can't anyone listen in on the transmissions, and you are now only relying on the encryption of the data? How is that any different than the current state of the art? Other than in space?
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Kabloona on 09/12/2017 11:07 PM
Quote
Caleb Henry‏ @CHenry_SN 5h5 hours ago

[email protected]_Orbit talking 24 launches in 2020. Rapidly scaling launch rate.

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

And here's his writeup for Space News.

http://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-still-expects-to-fly-twice-a-month-in-2020-despite-delayed-test-campaign/
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ThePhugoid on 09/12/2017 11:25 PM
And the flight paths and IIPs for low inclination from KOA if launched north of east would go over the continental US.  Seems unlikely.
Seems .... unrefined

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

Northern azimuth departures out of KSC to ISS fly over Europe in this sense all the time.  No issues there.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 09/13/2017 06:49 AM
http://spaceref.biz/company/cloud-constellation-selects-virgin-orbit-for-spacebelt-initial-constellation-deployment.html

"The initial deployment of the SpaceBelt network will be powered by a dozen ~400 kilogram satellites placed into low inclination orbits. Taking full advantage of LauncherOne as a dedicated launch service for small satellites and as a uniquely flexible service enabled by air-launch, the SpaceBelt constellation will be deployed using single-manifested launches occurring in rapid sequence. The initial launch is expected to occur as early as 2019."
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 09/13/2017 06:53 AM
I'm not sure how that is any more secure way to store data. Can't anyone listen in on the transmissions, and you are now only relying on the encryption of the data? How is that any different than the current state of the art? Other than in space?

Your data is stored on the satellite and not on the ground where it might be accessed through nefarious means. Laser communications will make it difficult to intercept the data. If they use quantum key encryption, then it will be impossible to crack.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/15/2017 05:59 PM
Picture from Virginís press release about new contract: https://virg.in/oft (https://virg.in/oft)

Edit: replaced with higher-res image
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: TrevorMonty on 09/15/2017 06:09 PM
I'm not sure how that is any more secure way to store data. Can't anyone listen in on the transmissions, and you are now only relying on the encryption of the data? How is that any different than the current state of the art? Other than in space?

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

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

The same security reasons are why new LEO broadband constellations are appealling to large data companies for direct comms links between databanks.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/18/2017 06:12 PM
Quote
AM Conference Speaker: DMG MORI and Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit and DMG MORI will discuss the aerospace companyís experience as the first adopter of the machine tool manufacturerís hybrid AM machine.

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

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

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

http://www.additivemanufacturing.media/blog/post/am-conference-speaker-dmg-mori-and-virgin-orbit (http://www.additivemanufacturing.media/blog/post/am-conference-speaker-dmg-mori-and-virgin-orbit)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 09/21/2017 11:45 PM
Virgin Orbit - Cosmic Girl Flight Test

Virgin Orbit
Published on Sep 21, 2017


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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6O0A8qUgaA
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: HVM on 09/22/2017 05:02 AM
I asked in the last video, will Cosmic Girl carry LOX onboard for Launcher One top off? I know nobody in big channels answers YouTube comments but still. Video was removed and re-uploaded, maybe there was editing error, it looked like exactly same to me...
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: HVM on 09/22/2017 04:56 PM
From Brian Lockett's book Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership:

"LOX Top-Off System Automation:

As the NB-52B hauled the X-15 to the launch point, the liquid oxygen in the tank of the X-15 was evaporating. The X-15 liquid oxygen supply was replenished from the tank in the bomb bay of the NB-52B. North American installed instrumentation to automate the operation of the liquid oxygen top-off system in February 1960. Forty-eight man-hours were expended over three days on the installation. A ďblack box" was mounted on a bulkhead in the bomb bay and its associated wiring was routed through the pressure bulkhead into the lower crew compartment..."
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Kryten on 09/22/2017 11:02 PM
 It doesn't sound like it will. From the LO environmental impact report;
Quote
The wing would be modified to carry both the rocket and a removable adapter, which houses the structural release mechanism, and quick release electrical and pneumatic connections to the carrier vehicle. The carrier vehicle provides electrical power, purge gasses, and monitoring and control of the rocket by a launch engineer onboard the carrier vehicle.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 09/25/2017 07:49 PM
I asked in the last video, will Cosmic Girl carry LOX onboard for Launcher One top off? I know nobody in big channels answers YouTube comments but still. Video was removed and re-uploaded, maybe there was editing error, it looked like exactly same to me...

(Long time lurker, first time poster)

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

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

And in answer to the minor point: there was one shot within the video that somehow got mirror (left to right). We pulled the video to replace that one shot.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 10/03/2017 11:22 PM
Virgin Orbit - NewtonFour Hotfire with Gimbal (25 September 2017)

Virgin Orbit
Published on Oct 3, 2017

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYImjgBF2oM
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 10/04/2017 03:52 AM
Typo on the date in the old one! The rest of the video is identical.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Rik ISS-fan on 10/04/2017 09:07 PM
Picture from Virginís press release about new contract: https://virg.in/oft (https://virg.in/oft)

Edit: replaced with higher-res image

Launcher one looks aerodynamically quite similar to BV+
(http://space.skyrocket.de/img_lau/gbi__1.jpg)
Image from Gunter's space page
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 10/16/2017 05:35 PM
Quote
Fun photo captured by 1 of our engineers last week: Our flying launch pad in the skies above 1 of our rocket engine test stands #LauncherOne

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/919977770444259328 (https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/919977770444259328)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 10/18/2017 05:46 AM
Speaker Slide Presentation: Our Purpose Ė A Spaceline for Earth (w/audio)

ISPCS .com
Published on Oct 17, 2017

Mike Moses, President, Virgin Galactic

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv-7LyPuvGs
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Craftyatom on 10/18/2017 03:57 PM
Speaker Slide Presentation: Our Purpose Ė A Spaceline for Earth (w/audio)

Those were some interesting short videos (with a lot of good test-firing footage), but I will warn future viewers that the audio quality is horrendous.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 10/26/2017 02:54 PM
Wow:

Quote
Press release: Saudi Arabiaís Public Investment Fund (PIF) has announced plans to invest $1 billion in Virgin Galactic, TSC, Virgin Orbit.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/923560891647488000 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/923560891647488000)

Quote
The release describes this as a ďa non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a partnershipĒ with option for addl. $480M investment.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/923561188658688000 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/923561188658688000)

Edit: press release attached
Title: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Star One on 10/26/2017 04:24 PM
Official Press Release Web Version

Saudi Arabia investment in our space companies

Quote
Change is happening on a number of fronts in Saudi Arabia. The Crown Prince His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud has started to loosen societal restrictions and encourage a more progressive stance on areas such as womenís rights. There have been small steps to date but he is committed to bringing about these modern changes.

At the same time, the Crown Prince is making some bold economic moves as he guides the Kingdom away from its dependence on oil. On Tuesday he announced plans for a $500 billion new city in the north of the Kingdom and today Iím pleased to announce the intention of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), pending approval by the US government, to invest approximately $1 billion into our US based space companies, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit.

This is exciting news for our companies. For our wonderful staff, customers and partners, this investment is a sign of confidence from the international investment community that our vision, our approach and our technology are the right path to commercialising space access. Both VSS Unity and LauncherOne are poised to reach significant technical milestones in the run-up to launch, and we are eager to build out R&D and our US facilities to support next generation vehicles and services.

We are now just months away from Virgin Galactic sending people into space and Virgin Orbit placing satellites around the Earth. This investment will enable us to develop the next generation of human spaceflight, more economic satellite launches and accelerate our programme for trans-continental point-to-point space travel. It also includes the possibility to develop a space-centric entertainment industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

We will remain majority shareholders, and our companies will remain firmly rooted in Virgin brand values and based in southern California and New Mexico.

It is also exciting news for the people of Saudi Arabia. As I wrote before, it is time of transformational change in the countryís history thanks to Crown Prince and his bold Vision 2030. The country is putting its oil wealth into growing other sectors such as education, entertainment, tourism, and future forward technology.

Their wish to invest in our space technology is positive progress of the larger societal transformation the Crown Prince seeks to bring to his country and citizens.

We look forward to welcoming KSA as our partners in opening access to space to change the world for good.

https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/saudi-arabia-investment-our-space-companies?amp
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 10/26/2017 08:55 PM
Wow. I always said I didn't really like Virgin Orbit's concept but respected their commitment. Wow.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 11/01/2017 02:59 PM
A new subsidiary:

Quote
VOX Space, LLC is a US-incorporated, wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Orbit, LLC. VOX Space provides the national security community of the USA and allied nations with responsive, dedicated, and affordable launch services for small satellites bound for Low Earth Orbit. Headquartered in Manhattan Beach, California, VOX Space can provide study, analysis, integration, and launch services using Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne, while ensuring our customerís critical information is protected.

https://voxspace.com/ (https://voxspace.com/)

(Edit to add: thanks to ParabolicArc's tweet (https://twitter.com/spacecom/status/925753151440879616) for the heads-up)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 11/09/2017 07:19 PM
Quote
For the first time, we've shipped a complete #LauncherOne rocket (minus only payload and fairing) from our rocket factory. This particular wonderful machine is supporting fueling and integrated stage testing.

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/928716979447275520
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 11/09/2017 07:33 PM
Always great to see hardware! :)
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic (Orbit) preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 11/09/2017 07:47 PM
One other photo here--this is of the rocket just outside our factory in Long Beach. Pulling from the longer caption on FB.

Quote
For the first time, we've shipped a complete LauncherOne rocket (minus only payload, fairing, and fins) from our rocket factory. This particular rocket isn't headed to space; instead, this wonderful machine is supporting fueling and integrated stage testing.

Weíve got important work yet to do, with but our carrier aircraft already in flight test, our factory up and running in production mode, a manifest full of customers eager to fly, an awesome team thatís clicking on all cylinders, and a fully-integrated rocket hanging on our test stand, weíve never been closer to our first flight to orbit.

BTW, I'd cast my vote for this thread just to be renamed "Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future" or something similar, rather than having the "Virgin Galactic (Orbit)" thing in there. Some people get confused and think Virgin Orbit and LauncherOne are still a part of Virgin Galactic, rather than being friendly sister companies. Every bit of clarity helps...
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/09/2017 08:33 PM
Good call. Changed it. Was an interim thread title due to the name change to cover the bases for people searching for both names. Enough time has passed now :)

The eventual goal is a standalone section when status gets closer to flight testing and launches.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 11/09/2017 09:13 PM
The eventual goal is a standalone section when status gets closer to flight testing and launches.

Thanks--and that sounds like a great plan to me.  I'm looking forward to that day! (<-- Understatement of the Year candidate right there)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: matthewkantar on 11/10/2017 08:30 PM
Will the test stand shown above support a full duration booster fire?

Matthew
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 11/12/2017 09:41 PM
Will the test stand shown above support a full duration booster fire?

Yes! It's a good, multi-functional stand.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/16/2017 02:09 PM
Oh hello.....

Presser:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AWARDS AGREEMENT FOR A PROTOTYPE LAUNCH ON VIRGIN ORBITíS LAUNCHERONE

The Department of Defense Space Test Program prototypes its first small launch demonstration from VOX Space, a subsidiary of Virgin Orbit

 

Long Beach, California Ė 16 November 2017 Ė The U.S. Department of Defense announced today that it has a prototype flight with Virgin Orbitís LauncherOne as a demonstration of the new, extremely flexible and responsive launch service. The DoD Space Test Program (STP) is now on the manifest for a primary launch expected to occur as early as January 2019.

 

The STP, executed by the Space and Missile System Centerís Advanced Systems Development Directorate, awarded the launch via an ĎOther Transactioní agreement by partnering with Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx).  VOX Space LLC, a new, independent subsidiary of Virgin Orbit, was created to provide dedicated service to the government national security market.

 

LauncherOne is a new launch service being developed by Virgin Orbit and consists of a two-stage expendable rocket and a fully-reusable air-launch platform. Virgin Orbit recently completed assembly of a complete pathfinder rocket at its 180,000 square foot factory in Long Beach, CA, and the systemís 747-400 flying launch pad has begun its flight test campaign. The system is designed to provide highly responsive, reliable, and affordable flights to Low Earth Orbit to small satellites. The initial flight of the LauncherOne system is targeted for the first half of 2018.

 

This prototype launch will be used to fly technology demonstration satellites. Equally importantly, this launch will demonstrate the ability to leverage the rapid call-up and ultra-high flexibility that characterize the LauncherOne service.  This launch allows the DoD to assess LauncherOne as a means to deliver Space Experiment Review Board payloads to orbit.

 

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said, ďThe ability to rapidly replenish space capabilities will contribute to maintaining outer space as a peaceful resource available for the benefit of planet Earth. I am excited that, with the creation of VOX Space, the incredible responsiveness and affordability of LauncherOne is now available to the national security market.  Under Mandyís excellent leadership, VOX Space brings a critical service to a very important segment of the market.Ē

 

ďWe are honored and excited to provide the capabilities of Virgin Orbitís LauncherOne to STP, and the Department of Defense, facilitated by DIUx,Ē said Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Space, which serves as the gateway for Virgin Orbitís national security space activities. ďLauncherOneís high-rate manufacturing capability and air-launched operations have already brought some very attractive service benefits to the commercial community, and with this contract our servicemen and women can now begin to experience those same benefits. We are looking forward to demonstrating a new and better way to do space launch and appreciate the innovation and creativity being demonstrated by the Department of Defense.Ē

 

MEDIA INQUIRES:

William Pomerantz, willia[email protected]

 

ABOUT VIRGIN ORBIT

Virgin Orbit provides dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. 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 customerís needs. Virgin Orbitís systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbitís talented and growing team, visit virginorbit.com.

 

ABOUT VOX SPACE

VOX Space, LLC is a US-incorporated, wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Orbit, LLC. VOX Space provides the national security community of the USA and allied nations with responsive, dedicated, and affordable launch services for small satellites bound for Low Earth Orbit. Led by President Mandy Vaughn and headquartered in Manhattan Beach, California, VOX Space can provide study, analysis, integration, and launch services using Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne, while ensuring our customers' critical information is protected. To learn more or to apply to join VOX Spaceís talented and growing team, visit voxspace.com.

 

###
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Ragmar on 11/16/2017 03:15 PM
Woah! Big news for Virgin Orbit and VOX Space. Any information anywhere on the value of the award?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Peppe on 11/21/2017 03:22 AM
Woah! Big news for Virgin Orbit and VOX Space. Any information anywhere on the value of the award?

$4.8M according to the source award notices for the small responsive launch bidder synopsis. https://govtribe.com/project/small-responsive-launch/activity

And perhaps $5.7M to Rocketlabs too: http://www.fbodaily.com/archive/2017/10-October/15-Oct-2017/FBO-04712944.htm
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 12/20/2017 06:22 AM
This is cool.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc6evPKAzN6/

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc6fHBAA338/

Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 01/05/2018 05:41 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSt0WY_tkfM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSt0WY_tkfM)

Quote
Published on 5 Jan 20182017 was a big year for us. It's the year we became our own company (March 2017) with a logo, vision, and values of our own. It's a year we grew our superstar team quickly, adding women and men from a wide range of industries and backgrounds. It's a year we sold a lot of launches to space. And above all, it's a year we conducted lots and lots of testing--of every part of our dedicated small satellite launch service.

We're pretty proud of what we accomplished in 2017. But get this: 2018 is going to be even bigger, even more challenging, even more impressive, and even more fun!
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 01/05/2018 07:07 PM
A first look at how the complete aircraft/rocket stack will look? (from video above)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 01/05/2018 07:14 PM
A first look at how the complete aircraft/rocket stack will look? (from video above)
That is a very scary image.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Zed_Noir on 01/06/2018 12:24 AM
A first look at how the complete aircraft/rocket stack will look? (from video above)
That is a very scary image.

Kind of reminds me of a AGM-48 Skybolt ballistic missile hanging off a B-52.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 01/06/2018 01:04 AM
A first look at how the complete aircraft/rocket stack will look? (from video above)
That is a very scary image.

Why is that? Virgin has a couple renderings of the rocket on the 747 on their website.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 01/06/2018 08:24 AM
A first look at how the complete aircraft/rocket stack will look? (from video above)
That is a very scary image.

Why is that? Virgin has a couple renderings of the rocket on the 747 on their website.
I just think of all the things could go wrong with that strapped under the wing and people on the host aircraft.

A small mistake in the rocket would be catastrophic for the entire launch system and people on board. Just imagine something like the SpaceX COPV pad event happened in this situation. Even a minor incident - say human error, which is something Virgin knows all about - could take out control surfaces, landing gear, an engine, part of the main box, a wing. With rockets it's only a matter of time before it happens.

I have a lot of respect for the way Virgin does business, it's very professional and commited but the concept itself makes me very nervous.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: RonM on 01/06/2018 03:36 PM
A first look at how the complete aircraft/rocket stack will look? (from video above)
That is a very scary image.

Why is that? Virgin has a couple renderings of the rocket on the 747 on their website.
I just think of all the things could go wrong with that strapped under the wing and people on the host aircraft.

A small mistake in the rocket would be catastrophic for the entire launch system and people on board. Just imagine something like the SpaceX COPV pad event happened in this situation. Even a minor incident - say human error, which is something Virgin knows all about - could take out control surfaces, landing gear, an engine, part of the main box, a wing. With rockets it's only a matter of time before it happens.

I have a lot of respect for the way Virgin does business, it's very professional and commited but the concept itself makes me very nervous.

Dropping rockets from aircraft is a proven technology. Pegasus has had 43 launches without damaging the carrier aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(rocket)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 01/06/2018 03:39 PM

Dropping rockets from aircraft is a proven technology. Pegasus has had 43 launches without damaging the carrier aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(rocket)

Pegasus is a solid fuel rocket. Virgin is liquid kerosene and liquid oxygen.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: AncientU on 01/06/2018 03:54 PM

Dropping rockets from aircraft is a proven technology. Pegasus has had 43 launches without damaging the carrier aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(rocket)

Pegasus is a solid fuel rocket. Virgin is liquid kerosene and liquid oxygen.

When it is released from the wing, it should be decelerating until rocket engine ignites... that pushes the propellants forward to the 'top' of the tanks.  What is done to 'settle' the liquids before engine ignition?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: RonM on 01/06/2018 04:12 PM

Dropping rockets from aircraft is a proven technology. Pegasus has had 43 launches without damaging the carrier aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(rocket)

Pegasus is a solid fuel rocket. Virgin is liquid kerosene and liquid oxygen.

When it is released from the wing, it should be decelerating until rocket engine ignites... that pushes the propellants forward to the 'top' of the tanks.  What is done to 'settle' the liquids before engine ignition?

Going back to 1959 - 1968, the X-15 had 199 free flights without damaging the B-52 carrier aircraft. The X-15 rocket engine used ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen.

So, decades ago engineers figured out how to launch liquid fueled rocket powered vehicles from aircraft. As long as Virgin is careful, there won't be a problem.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: AncientU on 01/06/2018 05:31 PM

Dropping rockets from aircraft is a proven technology. Pegasus has had 43 launches without damaging the carrier aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(rocket)

Pegasus is a solid fuel rocket. Virgin is liquid kerosene and liquid oxygen.

When it is released from the wing, it should be decelerating until rocket engine ignites... that pushes the propellants forward to the 'top' of the tanks.  What is done to 'settle' the liquids before engine ignition?

Going back to 1959 - 1968, the X-15 had 199 free flights without damaging the B-52 carrier aircraft. The X-15 rocket engine used ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen.

So, decades ago engineers figured out how to launch liquid fueled rocket powered vehicles from aircraft. As long as Virgin is careful, there won't be a problem.

Looking back at X-15 videos, it appears that the rocket ignites before release... if so, then not  good example of what VO will be doing. (I don't think ignition will happen anywhere near the carrier aircraft, right?)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: meekGee on 01/07/2018 01:42 AM

Dropping rockets from aircraft is a proven technology. Pegasus has had 43 launches without damaging the carrier aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(rocket)

Pegasus is a solid fuel rocket. Virgin is liquid kerosene and liquid oxygen.

When it is released from the wing, it should be decelerating until rocket engine ignites... that pushes the propellants forward to the 'top' of the tanks.  What is done to 'settle' the liquids before engine ignition?

Going back to 1959 - 1968, the X-15 had 199 free flights without damaging the B-52 carrier aircraft. The X-15 rocket engine used ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen.

So, decades ago engineers figured out how to launch liquid fueled rocket powered vehicles from aircraft. As long as Virgin is careful, there won't be a problem.

The X-15 also had a dV of 2400 m/s, and correspondingly a much lower mass ratio than you'd find in a rocket.  More airplane, less rocket.

Also, it was the 1960's.

There is a reason why launch pads are evacuated before the count-down begins.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 01/07/2018 05:00 AM
When it is released from the wing, it should be decelerating until rocket engine ignites... that pushes the propellants forward to the 'top' of the tanks.  What is done to 'settle' the liquids before engine ignition?

Angle the vehicle slightly upwards. That should counter the drag going forwards and settle the propellants to the bottom of the tanks.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 01/07/2018 05:18 AM
The tanks are going to be *full* when the thing is dropped. If you need to worry about propellant needing to be "settled" at ignition, you have more pressing things to worry about.  :D This is not something that should be too difficult. And if needed, you can use small starter/header tanks to ignite the engine.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: the_other_Doug on 01/07/2018 04:45 PM
Going back to 1959 - 1968, the X-15 had 199 free flights without damaging the B-52 carrier aircraft. The X-15 rocket engine used ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen.

Just a nit -- the X-15 "Big Engine", the XLR-99, used LOX and anhydrous ammonia as propellants.  There was discussion of changing the fuel to alcohol, but this was never actually done.

The XLR-11, used as a stop-gap motor for the X-15 (early flights used two XLR-11's, which each had four nozzles) did use LOX and alcohol.  One reason why the switch to alcohol was suggested for the XLR-99 was that, by the time the Big Engine would be ready, X-15 would have flown several times with alcohol in its fuel tanks, and there was a school of thought that, when you establish a set of operating processes, you reduce risk by reducing changes to the configuration going forward.  Ammonia would be new to the fuel tanks, tanking process, etc.  Why not just change the fuel to the less energetic, but easier-to-handle and less-toxic, alcohol?

It was decided that altering the XLR-99 to change its fuel would likely delay it further -- and it was already the pacing item in the X-15 flight schedule.  Plus, the engine would lose performance with the change.  Hence, no change; XLR-99 flew with ammonia fuel on the X-15.  :)

We return you now to your regularly scheduled thread...
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 01/07/2018 06:54 PM
Quote
[Garrett] Skrobot [NASA]: other VCLS launch contract, with Virgin Orbit, planned for no earlier than August. Launching 13 cubesats into polar orbit. #TRBAM

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/950088344138145793
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 01/16/2018 02:14 PM
This is where we'll be able to work a standalone section for LauncherOne...missions!

This one is 2019, so we'll keep collating in here and then split out the missions when there's a manifest running order.

Section will be articles so far (background).
Manifest Thread - Section Header.
Then mission threads.


---

FOR RELEASE

 

GOMSPACE SIGNS CONTRACT FOR LOW-INCLINATION LAUNCH ON VIRGIN ORBIT’S LAUNCHERONE

 

2019 launch will deploy several nanosatellites for aircraft and ocean vessel tracking constellation

 

Long Beach, CA ‚Äď 16 January 2018 ‚Äď Virgin Orbit announced today that Denmark-based commercial satellite developer GomSpace has purchased a launch for several nanosatellites onboard a LauncherOne rocket. The flight, which is bound for a low-inclination orbit, is scheduled to occur in early 2019.

 

GomSpace will use the launch to further build out a constellation of small satellites that will use Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Automatic Identification System (AIS)  signal monitoring to track civilian aircraft and ocean-going vessels. This satellite constellation will provide continuous monitoring between 37 degrees North and 37 degrees South, helping provide global situational awareness for air-traffic controllers and shipping companies, and aiding in the identification and location of wayward or missing planes and ships.

 

The satellites slated for flight on LauncherOne are based closely on the flight-proven hardware used in the successful GOMX-1 and GOMX-3 missions, and will be designed, manufactured, and commissioned by GomSpace. The constellation will be operated by GomSpace’s Mauritius-based customer, Aerial & Maritime Ltd., once in orbit.

 

‚ÄúGomSpace is always happy to take another step forward as a global leader in the nanosatellite community. Virgin Orbit and LauncherOne are a key part of building out our ADS-B and AIS monitoring constellation, which is going to fill a need that is both socially and commercially important,‚ÄĚ said GomSpace CEO. ‚ÄúSeeing the great work happening here at Virgin Orbit‚Äôs rocket factory today, we are more excited than ever for our flight on LauncherOne.‚ÄĚ

 

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart added: ‚ÄúGomSpace has already proven that they have an excellent technological solution that works in space. Now, they need to build out the full constellation, and I‚Äôm thrilled that our team at Virgin Orbit is playing a key role in that. The ADS-B and AIS tracking that this constellation will provide helps make us here on Earth safer and more efficient, and we think that is an incredibly important mission.‚ÄĚ

 

Virgin Orbit is currently in the process of qualification and test flight for the LauncherOne service, which includes both a two-stage expendable rocket and a fully-reusable air-launch platform. The company has a fully-assembled pathfinder rocket on the test stand in Mojave, CA, and several more in manufacturing and assembly in Long Beach, CA. The system’s 747-400 flying launch pad has begun its flight test campaign. LauncherOne is designed to provide highly responsive, reliable, and affordable flights to Low Earth Orbit to small satellites. The initial flight of the LauncherOne system is targeted for the first half of 2018.

 

‚ÄÉ

MEDIA INQUIRES:

Virgin Orbit: William Pomerantz, [email protected]

GomSpace: Niels Buus, [email protected]

 

ABOUT VIRGIN ORBIT:

Virgin Orbit provides dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. 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 GOMSPACE:

GomSpace is a globally leading designer, integrator, and manufacturer of high-end nanosatellites for customers in the academic, government, and commercial markets. Our positions of strength include systems integration, nanosatellite subsystems, and advanced miniaturized radio technology. Our international team is devoted to understanding our customers’ requirements and delivering flawlessly. We are listed in the Nasdaq First North Premier exchange in Stockholm (GOMX), headquartered in Denmark and have subsidiaries in Sweden, North America, and Singapore. We are currently more than 150 employees and we service customers in more than 50 countries. For more information, please visit our website at gomspace.com.

 

ABOUT AERIAL & MARITIME LTD.

Aerial & Maritime, Ltd. (‚ÄúA&M‚ÄĚ) is a global data provider and the company‚Äôs satellites will be capable of monitoring civilian aircraft and vessels based on reception of ADS-B and AIS-signals, respectively. A&M is an affiliated company of GomSpace Group AB.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 01/16/2018 03:03 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epIB4cqKDT4 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epIB4cqKDT4)

Quote
Virgin Orbit - NewtonThree Hotfire (9 January 2018)

Edit to add:

This video and the one in the next post come from Richard Branson's latest blog on Virgin Orbit:

https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/virgin-orbits-rocket-tests (https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/virgin-orbits-rocket-tests)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 01/16/2018 03:06 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxZU1QGCURI (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxZU1QGCURI)

Quote
Virgin Orbit
Uploaded on 10 Jan 2018

Our team is hard at work testing all of the major parts and systems of LauncherOne, our dedicated smallsat launch vehicle. Among other things, we kicked off 2018 with a series of tests of our payload fairing. Effectively the nose cone of the rocket, the payload fairing needs to be strong enough to keep the satellites we are launching safe and secure, but it also needs open reliably and smoothly in order to safely deploy our customersí precious spacecraft.

In this video, you can see some of the separation tests weíve conducted to prove out the mechanisms and components that help separate our full-scaled fairing. In these tests, we varied the operational settings to help test and tune the system.  Next up, weíre moving to full fairing separation system testing, including frangible joints, as we work to ensure LauncherOne has a robust, reliable, and smooth fairing separation system on which our customers can rely.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: matthewkantar on 01/17/2018 03:43 PM
Ball crawl instead of bouncy house, and color coded! Won't they need to conduct this test in a vacuum chamber? I doubt testing it during a launch would be cheaper than testing it on earth.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 01/18/2018 07:34 AM
Ball crawl instead of bouncy house, and color coded! Won't they need to conduct this test in a vacuum chamber? I doubt testing it during a launch would be cheaper than testing it on earth.

But they *are* testing it on Earth, just not with the fidelity you seem to want. They might also do a vacuum chamber test, but note that even that is an imperfect analog.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Jim on 01/18/2018 12:13 PM

Looking back at X-15 videos, it appears that the rocket ignites before release...

No, not until after drop
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/18/2018 03:22 PM
When it is released from the wing, it should be decelerating until rocket engine ignites... that pushes the propellants forward to the 'top' of the tanks.  What is done to 'settle' the liquids before engine ignition?

Angle the vehicle slightly upwards. That should counter the drag going forwards and settle the propellants to the bottom of the tanks.
I got the impression, from various design studies that flight angle at separation can make a huge difference in several areas regarding loads, payload to orbit etc. Like MR control during the flight, one of those subtle-but-powerful details that can have a big impact on the feasibility  of a design.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 01/18/2018 05:25 PM
Quote
Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit: saw a tipping point several years ago in growth of smallsat capabilities. But most still relying on secondary payload opportunities.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/954053254316544001

Quote
Hart notes first LauncherOne launch planned for the ďmiddle of this year.Ē
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/954053474345463809
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 01/18/2018 05:36 PM
Quote
Hart touts the benefits of air launch, including rapid turnaround; could potentially do a couple launches in a day.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/954055809822060550

Quote
Hart:  our manifest in 2018 is full, half full in 2019 (with 12 launches planned), and half full also in 2020, with double the launches.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/954055997227786241
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 02/02/2018 02:31 PM
Looks like they added a media gallery to their website.

https://virginorbit.com/gallery/
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 02/03/2018 06:44 AM
Quote
Thank you @Virgin_Orbit for the  tour of your facility and the opportunity to meet your work force. The technologies and capabilities in this enterprise are rapidly progressing and I appreciate your passion and dedication! #spacestartshere too!

https://twitter.com/smc_cc/status/959609214413897729
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 02/14/2018 06:10 AM
Quote
Recently, we conducted two Launch Campaign Rehearsalsófull-on sessions where our technicians and engineers prepare a LauncherOne rocket as though it were launch day and the countdown clock was ticking towards t-minus-zero.
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/963486660817137669

Quote
Propellant tanks are loaded and pressurized, software is loaded up, and our mission control crew are at their consoles, overseeing it all. These rehearsals provide a great chance to test out everything from the ground support equipment to the call-outs and procedures.
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/963486661643354114

Quote
It is imperative that we be safe, precise, and systematic. Since we are building a system that is designed for flexibility, it bodes well that our very first launch campaign rehearsal was completed in one extended shiftóand even better that our second rehearsal was 40% faster.
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/963486662423560192

Quote
Thereís still important work to do as we finish qualification of our major assemblies and systems for LauncherOneóbut our first orbital flight grows closer with every test and every milestone.
https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/963486663375597568
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Kryten on 02/15/2018 10:47 PM
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/964214407306928128
Quote
Monica Jan, Virgin Orbit: weíre planning for first orbital launch around 3rd quarter of this year. Planning 12 launches in 2019, 24 in 2020. #CDSmallSat18
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/964215198000304131
Quote
Jan: Captive carry test flight for LauncherOne coming up pretty soon.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 02/23/2018 07:06 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONv98FWW1hM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONv98FWW1hM)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/03/2018 06:39 AM
Quote
It was three years ago this week that we moved into our headquarters in @LongBeachCity. From an empty building in March 2015 to the bustling rocket factory full of bright people and awesome hardware we have today, weíve been having a helluva good time. #space #MadeinUSA

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/969701765363806209?s=21
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ThePhugoid on 03/04/2018 07:24 AM
Quote
It was three years ago this week that we moved into our headquarters in @LongBeachCity. From an empty building in March 2015 to the bustling rocket factory full of bright people and awesome hardware we have today, weíve been having a helluva good time. #space #MadeinUSA

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/969701765363806209?s=21

Wow lots to make out in that last photo.  There are several first stages at varying levels of maturity, and an aft skirt with some fins attached to it.  I think there are also some upper stages and interstages towards the back, and a fairing half.  Seems like enough components for 2 or 3 vehicles.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Davidthefat on 03/05/2018 04:18 PM
Quote
It was three years ago this week that we moved into our headquarters in @LongBeachCity. From an empty building in March 2015 to the bustling rocket factory full of bright people and awesome hardware we have today, we’ve been having a helluva good time. #space #MadeinUSA

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/969701765363806209?s=21

So, that's what a billionaire backed venture looks like.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 03/05/2018 07:23 PM
Quote
It was three years ago this week that we moved into our headquarters in @LongBeachCity. From an empty building in March 2015 to the bustling rocket factory full of bright people and awesome hardware we have today, weíve been having a helluva good time. #space #MadeinUSA

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/969701765363806209?s=21

So, that's what a billionaire backed venture looks like.

The majority of Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit's funding comes from Saudi Arabia, not the Virgin parent company (and I doubt any of it comes directly from Branson).
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 03/06/2018 12:49 AM
The majority of Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit's funding comes from Saudi Arabia, not the Virgin parent company (and I doubt any of it comes directly from Branson).

FYI, this is not at all correct. The announcement last year about Virgin and Saudi Arabia was about a potential future investment, which is still subject to a variety of government approvals et cetera et cetera. So, no funding has come in from Saudi Arabia, at least not yet.

You may be thinking of our minority partner Aabar Investments, which is based in the UAE, not Saudi. They and Virgin Group (which has most definitely put in funding directly!) have been our two sources of funding.

And yes, it is certainly nice to work for investors who enable us to be hardware rich!
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 03/06/2018 02:30 AM
I did forget Aabar was in UAE.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 04/06/2018 02:02 PM
Quote
Virgin Orbit aims to offer responsive launch and constellation maintenance services

SAN JOSE, California Ė Virgin Orbit plans to offer customers a variety of services including responsive launch, maintenance of large satellite constellations and potentially debris removal, Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit president and chief executive, said April 4 at the Space 2.0 conference here.

In 2018, Virgin Orbit plans to conduct the first test launch and initial commercial flight of LauncherOne, its air-launched rocket designed to send payloads weighing 300 kilograms into sun synchronous orbit and 500 kilograms into low inclination orbits. Some customers will fill LauncherOneís fairing with a single satellite while other customers will launch multiple satellites on the rocket, Hart said.

As Virgin Orbit meets with potential commercial and government customers, the company is beginning to define what it calls ďconcierge service to orbit,Ē Hart said.

For larger constellations, Virgin Orbit is ďunder contract to do operations and maintenance,Ē Hart said. ďThe satellite constellations that have hundreds or thousands of satellites will send them up on large rockets. Then, as the satellites age or thereís infant mortality, there will be a need to replenish satellites at various planes.Ē

At that point, it would be inefficient for the constellation operators to purchase a larger rocket or ride as a secondary payload, Hart said.

ďIf you need to put two satellites in a plane, you are going to waste a lot of money buying a large rocket or spend a lot of time drifting over a hitchhiked satellite to your orbit,Ē Hart said. ďSo thereís a lot of interest from those companies in dedicated launch capability.Ē

Virgin Orbit plans to serve those large constellations by ďputting up spares, servicing specific planes and potentially handling debris if it shows up in their orbit,Ē Hart said.

Hart said that until recently he didnít see much of a business case for space debris removal, but that is changing with the number of satellites people plan to send into low Earth orbit.

ďThere will be a real need to clear out debris in low Earth orbits if satellites have issues in their orbital slots. And with thousands of satellites planned, that is going to happen,Ē Hart said. ďIíve recently become a believer that space debris is a problem that needs to be solved and Iím happy to see there are companies rising up to take that on.Ē

A key element of Virgin Orbitís concierge service will be flexible and responsive space access, Hart said. LauncherOne flies off the wing of a modified Boeing 747.

ďCommercial customers say the idea of getting into orbit within days is very appealing for them,Ē Hart said. ďFor national security world, that has always been a goal. For once, the commercial and government worlds are perfectly well aligned.Ē

Initially, Virgin Orbitís 747, called Cosmic Girl, will fly from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California and ďwe are planning to fly out of the Kennedy Space Center,Ē Hart said. ďAs the industry matures and people want to go to different orbits, we can fly out of pretty much any airport that can handle a 747. Of course we have to handle some propellant as well and licensing and so forth.Ē

http://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-aims-to-offer-responsive-launch-and-constellation-maintenance-services/
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/11/2018 12:47 PM
Quote
Really great visit to one of our newest #VirginFamily members @Virgin_Orbit Ė they told me all about their exciting progress in launching the smallsat revolution https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/launching-small-satellite-revolution

https://twitter.com/richardbranson/status/984027087005798401
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 04/14/2018 02:38 AM
The ODAR for ELaNA-20 CubeSats (Virgin Orbit)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 04/15/2018 07:23 AM
Thanks gongora. Payloads are listed below. ALBus is also listed in ELaNa XIX on Electron!

ALBus
Cactus 1
CAPE 3
ExoCube 2
INCA
MicroMAS 2b
MiTEE
PICS 1
PICS 2
PolarCube
Q-PACE
RadFXSat 2
SHFT 2
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 04/15/2018 01:58 PM
ALBus is also listed in ELaNa XIX on Electron!

The ELaNa XIX document is much more recent, I'd go with that one where there is differing information.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/18/2018 10:14 PM
Quote
Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit: towards the tail end of qualification for LauncherOne. Did latest engine test 12 hours ago. First launch later this year. #34SS

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/986728853195206656
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/23/2018 10:08 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Gliderflyer on 04/24/2018 01:14 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8)
Be sure to watch it with the subtitles on; they like to add funny comments in there.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 04/24/2018 02:46 AM

Quote
Be sure to watch it with the subtitles on; they like to add funny comments in there.


Love it, that was fun.  Wish NASA Stennis would do this same, even if they were info tidbits.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 04/24/2018 05:13 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8)

The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: jongoff on 04/24/2018 06:07 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8)
Be sure to watch it with the subtitles on; they like to add funny comments in there.

Thanks for the heads up! Those captions were actually pretty funny. Even being a rocket geek, there's no way I would've watched a full 3.5min firing without having something like that to keep my attention...

:-)

~Jon
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/24/2018 06:41 AM
The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?
If you watched it with the CC subtitles on you would have known this was including a gimbal test as well.



Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Prettz on 04/24/2018 12:31 PM
The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?
If you watched it with the CC subtitles on you would have known this was including a gimbal test as well.
You'll understand if the vast majority of people turned them off, as they go 0 to gag-inducing in 3 seconds.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 04/24/2018 01:40 PM
The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?
If you watched it with the CC subtitles on you would have known this was including a gimbal test as well.
You'll understand if the vast majority of people turned them off, as they go 0 to gag-inducing in 3 seconds.

I already feel bad for Pomerantz when he reads this. haha
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 04/24/2018 03:07 PM
I already feel bad for Pomerantz when he reads this. haha
Eh, the overwhelming majority of people seem to love them. And for those who don't, that's why we made them an Easter Egg that is turned off by default. We never even mention them or promote them in any way, they are just left for people to find on their own, in hopes that perhaps they will feel a little bit of joy when reading them.

And honestly, if I were the only person in the world who found them amusing, I'd probably keep writing them anyway. Cause why not, right?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Davidthefat on 04/24/2018 03:15 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8)

The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?

Looks a bit dirty as well.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Gliderflyer on 04/24/2018 11:26 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYVddR3GLi8)

The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?

Looks a bit dirty as well.

I don't know if it is normal for engines of this size, but with the large variations in engine construction, O/F ratios, combustion efficiencies, etc., it is hard to define a "normal" look for rocket engines. The plume looks similar to their other hotfire videos on youtube, so I would guess this one is in family and "normal" for it.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: deruch on 04/25/2018 07:14 AM
The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?

Looks a bit dirty as well.

The gas generator exhaust seems to be right below and in-line with the nozzle in this set-up.  So, that might be what you are seeing.  You can see it more clearly in the top video.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 04/25/2018 07:52 AM
The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?

Looks a bit dirty as well.

The gas generator exhaust seems to be right below and in-line with the nozzle in this set-up.  So, that might be what you are seeing.  You can see it more clearly in the top video.

No, that's not what I mean. Look at the exhaust starting at 1:00, top view. The brightness of the exhaust flickers on and off like a hybrid or solid, not like a smooth running liquid engine usually does. But I could be wrong... The VG guys know a lot more about rockets than I do!  :)

I have attached a tiny GIF I made from the video.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/25/2018 08:35 AM
Eh, the overwhelming majority of people seem to love them. And for those who don't, that's why we made them an Easter Egg that is turned off by default. We never even mention them or promote them in any way, they are just left for people to find on their own, in hopes that perhaps they will feel a little bit of joy when reading them.

And honestly, if I were the only person in the world who found them amusing, I'd probably keep writing them anyway. Cause why not, right?
Not to mention the side benefit of causing competitors to underestimate your engine achievements.  :).
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: edzieba on 04/25/2018 11:05 AM
The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?

Looks a bit dirty as well.

The gas generator exhaust seems to be right below and in-line with the nozzle in this set-up.  So, that might be what you are seeing.  You can see it more clearly in the top video.

No, that's not what I mean. Look at the exhaust starting at 1:00, top view. The brightness of the exhaust flickers on and off like a hybrid or solid, not like a smooth running liquid engine usually does. But I could be wrong... The VG guys know a lot more about rockets than I do!  :)

I have attached a tiny GIF I made from the video.
That could just as well be a camera artefact as anything else, the image is already wobbling all over the place like an overexited jelly due to the rolling shutter effect.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Senex on 04/25/2018 12:50 PM
I already feel bad for Pomerantz when he reads this. haha
Eh, the overwhelming majority of people seem to love them. And for those who don't, that's why we made them an Easter Egg that is turned off by default. We never even mention them or promote them in any way, they are just left for people to find on their own, in hopes that perhaps they will feel a little bit of joy when reading them.

And honestly, if I were the only person in the world who found them amusing, I'd probably keep writing them anyway. Cause why not, right?

Whether or not I always agree with what Virgin does, I appreciate Mr. Pomerantz sharing the occasional note with us.  He is contributing more to our collective progress than I am able to, and I thank him for that.

All the best, Will.  Please keep posting.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Kabloona on 04/25/2018 01:52 PM

The flame output does not look very stable, it seemed to vary a lot (particular when in side view angle) - is this normal for an engine of this scale, or is this engine missing part of its high altitude or vacuum nozzle?

I had the same reaction, that it looked more like a hybrid plume. From the side view (aft looking forward) there are dark streaks in the plume at the exit plane, typical of unburned hydorcarbons, similar to their hybrid motor firings.

Maybe they are doing something funky with the injector pattern, like injecting excess RP-1 around the perimter to help cool the nozzle, resulting in poor mixing in the chamber and more afterburning in the plume?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 04/26/2018 12:41 AM
Whether or not I always agree with what Virgin does, I appreciate Mr. Pomerantz sharing the occasional note with us.  He is contributing more to our collective progress than I am able to, and I thank him for that.

All the best, Will.  Please keep posting.

Aw, thanks! I've lurked here for a long time, and am happy to contribute to the conversation here.

In response to some of the other questions and comments raised: almost all of the issues mentioned are indeed camera artifacts, as edzieba and others have guessed. (We're basically using traffic cameras for these particular footage.) The rest are pretty much attributable to the fact that we were not using the flight nozzle in this particular test.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Markstark on 04/26/2018 01:36 AM
I already feel bad for Pomerantz when he reads this. haha
Eh, the overwhelming majority of people seem to love them. And for those who don't, that's why we made them an Easter Egg that is turned off by default. We never even mention them or promote them in any way, they are just left for people to find on their own, in hopes that perhaps they will feel a little bit of joy when reading them.

And honestly, if I were the only person in the world who found them amusing, I'd probably keep writing them anyway. Cause why not, right?


The captions were great. Keep them coming please
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: octavo on 04/26/2018 01:00 PM


Whether or not I always agree with what Virgin does, I appreciate Mr. Pomerantz sharing the occasional note with us.  He is contributing more to our collective progress than I am able to, and I thank him for that.

All the best, Will.  Please keep posting.

Aw, thanks! I've lurked here for a long time, and am happy to contribute to the conversation here.

In response to some of the other questions and comments raised: almost all of the issues mentioned are indeed camera artifacts, as edzieba and others have guessed. (We're basically using traffic cameras for these particular footage.) The rest are pretty much attributable to the fact that we were not using the flight nozzle in this particular test.

Could we crowdfund better cameras for you (and us)? :D
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 04/28/2018 12:42 AM
A very generous offer, but we'll solider on with Uncle Richard's money!  8)

That said, if you are feeling generous with your space dollars, may I suggest a donation to SEDS (http://seds.org/donate/) or the Brooke Owens Fellowship Program (http://www.brookeowensfellowship.org/donate/)? (Or signing up for L2, naturally)  ;D
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 05/01/2018 10:40 PM
Virgin Orbit - Level Up Event

Virgin Orbit
Published on May 1, 2018

Richard Branson and all of the companies in the Virgin Group believe that having a firm, clearly understood purpose ó and having a bit of fun when the time is right ó is the best way to achieve great things. Recently, Richard joined our CEO, Dan Hart, to host a giant event for every single member of our team. We all got to hear directly from some of the leading innovators in the satellite industry, including Spire Global's CFO Bryan LeBlanc and Maxar Technologies' CEO Howard Lance, about the marvelous, world-changing things their satellites will achieve once we deliver them safely to Earth orbit.
 
The theme for the event was "Level Up." When you level up, your team gets stronger, your resources get better, your challenges get tougher, and everything gets so much more rewarding. Although some of our biggest challenges still lie ahead, weíre so proud of the work our Virgin Orbit team has already accomplished in our journey to open up space for everyone.
 
To wrap things up, just before adjourning for an epic party, we held a live and totally unscripted game show with our customers as contestants and Richard himself as host!
 
You had to be there to truly experience it, but here's a quick recap of a marvelous event. Our thanks and admiration go to Howard, Bryan, Jenny Barna (Spire's Director of Launch ó who had perhaps the best line of the night during the warm-up question for our game show), and the rest of our guests!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crvUfZvqt9w?t=001

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crvUfZvqt9w

Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/03/2018 11:09 PM
Quote
Our factory in Long Beach, CA is filling up rocket hardware! We build almost all of #LauncherOne in-house, and it's awesome to watch hardware come together. We're working hard to prepare for our first orbital flights--and having a lot of fun along the way.

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/992178394740633600
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: catdlr on 05/09/2018 11:46 PM
Virgin Orbit - NewtonThree Hotfire with Gimbal (25 April 2018)

Virgin Orbit
Published on May 9, 2018

As our inaugural launch gets closer, we continue to test the more technical features of our most powerful engine, the NewtonThree. This recent test demonstrated the engineís gimballing capabilities, a critical steering mechanism that ensures we put our customerís satellites precisely where they need to be in orbit. And no, this clip isnít sped up ó we programmed the nozzle to pivot faster and faster as the test progresses.

Just two engines power our LauncherOne rocket: The NewtonThree on the main stage, and the NewtonFour on the upper stage.

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUTRxJjYPbY
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Andy Bandy on 05/10/2018 05:17 AM
Quote
Our factory in Long Beach, CA is filling up rocket hardware! We build almost all of #LauncherOne in-house, and it's awesome to watch hardware come together. We're working hard to prepare for our first orbital flights--and having a lot of fun along the way.

https://twitter.com/virgin_orbit/status/992178394740633600

If Branson's foray into the space industry has been good for anything, it's Virgin promotional videos. I'm guessing his son's production company is responsible for this one. Perhaps one day -- maybe later this year -- they'll be able to produce a video of them actually launching something into space. Until then, Virgin will have the worst hype to accomplishment ratio in New Space.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 05/10/2018 03:43 PM
If Branson's foray into the space industry has been good for anything, it's Virgin promotional videos. I'm guessing his son's production company is responsible for this one. Perhaps one day -- maybe later this year -- they'll be able to produce a video of them actually launching something into space. Until then, Virgin will have the worst hype to accomplishment ratio in New Space.
Not sure which video you are referring to (the link you posted goes to a tweet with a photo, not a video), but regardless, I can tell you it wasn't made by Sam Branson or Sundog Pictures. All of our videos have been made by our in-house video department, which for a long time consisted of a single intern who we shared with our sister space companies (and who is now a full time employee here at VO--you rock, Greg!).

If you find the creation of a YouTube channel with a whopping 1,037 subscribers to be a more impressive accomplishment than, say, full mission-duty-cycle burns of a ~75,000 lbf thrust engine designed, manufactured, and tested in house, it's possible that you and I simply have a different view of the world.  8)

Anyway, we're pretty excited for our upcoming launches as well, though we're not really in it for the purposes of producing videos.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Davidthefat on 05/10/2018 04:14 PM
Until then, Virgin will have the worst hype to accomplishment ratio in New Space.

I can think of a few with much much worse ratios.

@Pomerantz:

What's the Isp of the engine?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: mme on 05/10/2018 06:44 PM
...

If you find the creation of a YouTube channel with a whopping 1,037 subscribers to be a more impressive accomplishment than, say, full mission-duty-cycle burns of a ~75,000 lbf thrust engine designed, manufactured, and tested in house, it's possible that you and I simply have a different view of the world.  8)

Anyway, we're pretty excited for our upcoming launches as well, though we're not really in it for the purposes of producing videos.
1. Thanks for your participation in this forum.
2. Love your attitude, looking forward to watching your launches.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Andy Bandy on 05/12/2018 04:10 AM
If Branson's foray into the space industry has been good for anything, it's Virgin promotional videos. I'm guessing his son's production company is responsible for this one. Perhaps one day -- maybe later this year -- they'll be able to produce a video of them actually launching something into space. Until then, Virgin will have the worst hype to accomplishment ratio in New Space.
Not sure which video you are referring to (the link you posted goes to a tweet with a photo, not a video), but regardless, I can tell you it wasn't made by Sam Branson or Sundog Pictures. All of our videos have been made by our in-house video department, which for a long time consisted of a single intern who we shared with our sister space companies (and who is now a full time employee here at VO--you rock, Greg!).

If you find the creation of a YouTube channel with a whopping 1,037 subscribers to be a more impressive accomplishment than, say, full mission-duty-cycle burns of a ~75,000 lbf thrust engine designed, manufactured, and tested in house, it's possible that you and I simply have a different view of the world.  8)

Anyway, we're pretty excited for our upcoming launches as well, though we're not really in it for the purposes of producing videos.

Actually referring to the VO video about the level in...sideways...beveled. The one where Branson showed up. You had one intern show up with the boss present and he shot all that footage and edited into a professional promo/branding video all by himself? Interesting....I could see one person doing the engine fires. Present cameras, show the flames, different angles. Seems like you would have needed some more people for the party.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/12/2018 06:11 AM
If Branson's foray into the space industry has been good for anything, it's Virgin promotional videos. I'm guessing his son's production company is responsible for this one. Perhaps one day -- maybe later this year -- they'll be able to produce a video of them actually launching something into space. Until then, Virgin will have the worst hype to accomplishment ratio in New Space.
Well orbital launch from a carrier rocket was first demonstrated by Orbital in 1990, so the principle is 28 years old.

Now recovering the second stage of the F9. That's still shear hype.
Let's see which event happens first, shall we?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 05/12/2018 07:29 PM
FCC File Number 0834-EX-ST-2018 (https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/els/reports/STA_Print.cfm?mode=current&application_seq=84651&RequestTimeout=1000)

Quote
Please explain in the area below why an STA is necessary:

Virgin Orbit is designing a satellite launch vehicle (Launcher One) that will be air launched from a modified 747 airplane. STA License is requested to operate an S-Band Transmitter located on Launcher One for the upcoming first launch. 747 will take-off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California with Launcher One in captive carry. Launcher One will be dropped and launched in the Western Sea Range restricted airspace off Point Mugu, California. Launch license to be provided by FAA-Commercial Space Transportation Office. Captive carry flight and orbital trajectory details will be shared with NASA, USAF, NTIA, NOAA, WAFC and other US Government agencies through FAA or directly if necessary. (See attached exhibit for details)

Purpose of Operation

S-Band transmitter will be used for telemetry and video transmission from the launch vehicle.

Requested Period of Operation

Operation Start Date:   08/01/2018
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Andy Bandy on 05/13/2018 03:35 AM
If Branson's foray into the space industry has been good for anything, it's Virgin promotional videos. I'm guessing his son's production company is responsible for this one. Perhaps one day -- maybe later this year -- they'll be able to produce a video of them actually launching something into space. Until then, Virgin will have the worst hype to accomplishment ratio in New Space.
Well orbital launch from a carrier rocket was first demonstrated by Orbital in 1990, so the principle is 28 years old.

Now recovering the second stage of the F9. That's still shear hype.
Let's see which event happens first, shall we?

Nobody's questioning air launch. Just 14 years of hype....
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/22/2018 04:24 PM
Quote
Stephen Eisele, Virgin Orbit: in final qualification testing for our engines. Planning a captive carry test in the next month or so, with first launch in mid-summer. #SpaceTechExpo

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/998960829071613954
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/22/2018 05:24 PM
Quote
Question to Eisele: Is there anything you can announce about Virgin Moon? Eisele: umm...no. Maybe at some point when we have a third stage we can send things beyond LEO on LauncherOne. (WHAT the heck is Virgin Moon?) #SpaceTechExpo

https://twitter.com/spacecom/status/998968384808148994
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 05/22/2018 05:47 PM
That's an obvious extension - take a smaller payload somewhere else on a bus ride, and charge 10x more for it.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: deptrai on 05/23/2018 03:17 AM
Stephen also said they plan to build up to 24 rockets per year in their 180,000 ft^2 site in LB. 
He said that being the first (small sat launcher) to 100 launches is better than being 1st to orbit (inferring Rocket Lab).  He believes there is room for 3-4 of them and that there was once 84 in existence.  I'm not sure if he threw out that number in jest or not.

I was surprised how close up I was able to get to Cosmic Girl.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: high road on 05/23/2018 11:11 AM
He said that being the first (small sat launcher) to 100 launches is better than being 1st to orbit (inferring Rocket Lab).

Now that's a fun challenge. How about we make that 10, though. Long before they reach a hundred, it will have become routine.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/23/2018 12:33 PM
Stephen also said they plan to build up to 24 rockets per year in their 180,000 ft^2 site in LB. 
He said that being the first (small sat launcher) to 100 launches is better than being 1st to orbit (inferring Rocket Lab).  He believes there is room for 3-4 of them and that there was once 84 in existence.  I'm not sure if he threw out that number in jest or not.

I was surprised how close up I was able to get to Cosmic Girl.
With a four engine (and virtually no passengers) replacing one engine with the LV still seems like a viable plan.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: e of pi on 05/23/2018 12:57 PM
With a four engine (and virtually no passengers) replacing one engine with the LV still seems like a viable plan.
They don't even need to do that. The 747 has an inboard mounting point for a fifth engine (https://www.instagram.com/p/BAL0g9JQ-8c/?utm_source=ig_embed), because when originally introduced there was an occasional need to ferry engines for to places where there was no other way to move the new high-bypass turbofans. It's still occasionally used, as you'll see in that link.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/02/2018 03:51 PM
Quote
Sirisha Bandla, Virgin Orbit: no payloads on the first LauncherOne mission, but second one will be for NASA [Venture Class Launch Services, presumably]. #DPSS18

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1002927814318927873
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: ringsider on 06/03/2018 07:10 AM
I've often said I am highly impressed by Virgin's commitment and resources.

Here's another example - the list of open positions:-

https://careers-virginorbit.icims.com/jobs/search?ss=1 (https://careers-virginorbit.icims.com/jobs/search?ss=1)

42 open roles - more than most other newspace companies have in total, I would imagine.

And that ls in addition to the hundreds they have now.

Impressive, honestly.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/04/2018 11:59 AM
New article by Eric Berger:

Quote
With a simple and cheap rocket, Virgin Orbit aims for the extraordinary
With a first flight months away, we take a long look at the launch company.

by Eric Berger - Jun 4, 2018 11:30pm UTC

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/06/with-an-airplane-and-now-a-rocket-virgin-orbit-readies-for-prime-time/

Photos provided to Ars by Virgin Orbit.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Chris Bergin on 06/05/2018 10:41 PM
Very nice looking LV!

https://twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/1004127337019871237

Itís a LauncherOne on the move! Belated apologies to any Long Beach motorists, but this Very Important Rocket has places to be. Weíve still got some milestones ahead, but every day we get closer to flight.

And Michael is working an article of this next milestone - and I'll set up a standalone section (as I hinted about a while back) for Virgin. We're at that point now :)
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lars-J on 06/05/2018 11:12 PM
Wow, that that thing is a lot larger than I imagined.   8)

(trying desperately to avoid a "that's what she said" joke, and failing)  ;D
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/06/2018 06:52 AM
More & higher res pics from the Virgin Orbit tweet
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: CameronD on 06/06/2018 08:02 AM
Wow, that that thing is a lot larger than I imagined.   8)

It's certainly difficult to imagine it hanging from a 747.. it looks too big!  :o
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Yeknom-Ecaps on 06/09/2018 02:22 AM
Very nice looking LV!

https://twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/1004127337019871237

Itís a LauncherOne on the move! Belated apologies to any Long Beach motorists, but this Very Important Rocket has places to be. Weíve still got some milestones ahead, but every day we get closer to flight.

And Michael is working an article of this next milestone - and I'll set up a standalone section (as I hinted about a while back) for Virgin. We're at that point now :)

Where were they moving it from/to?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: russianhalo117 on 06/09/2018 03:01 AM
Very nice looking LV!

https://twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/1004127337019871237

It’s a LauncherOne on the move! Belated apologies to any Long Beach motorists, but this Very Important Rocket has places to be. We’ve still got some milestones ahead, but every day we get closer to flight.

And Michael is working an article of this next milestone - and I'll set up a standalone section (as I hinted about a while back) for Virgin. We're at that point now :)

Where were they moving it from/to?
First to Long Beach Airport (KLGB) to see Cosmic Girl for a fit check then to Mohave Desert for a long battery of tests.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: deptrai on 06/11/2018 08:27 PM
Where were they moving it from/to?

They are moving Cosmic Girl and the rocket from Long Beach to the Mohave Desert for captive carry testing.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Lar on 06/11/2018 11:53 PM
Where were they moving it from/to?

They are moving Cosmic Girl and the rocket from Long Beach to the Mohave Desert for captive carry testing.

Are they shipping them separately or mounting the rocket on CG for the transit?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Yeknom-Ecaps on 06/14/2018 12:42 AM
Did it move on June 4th or 5th?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: deptrai on 06/14/2018 05:43 PM
Did it move on June 4th or 5th?
I was there June 6th and Cosmic Girl hadn't moved since I last saw her a couple weeks earlier.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/28/2018 05:19 AM
Quote
Stephen Eisele, Virgin Orbit: our next major milestone is a captive carry flight, in just over a week. Next after that will be orbital flight test, which will be as soon as possible after we analyze data from captive carry. #newspace2018

https://twitter.com/ponder68/status/1012120094670024704

Quote
Eisele: hope to do first launch by the end of the summer, but depends on outcome of captive carry test. #NewSpace2018

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1012119813517279232

Quote
Eisele: will deploy test rocket (without ignition) at end of captive carry flight. Only plan for a single captive carry test, but may do more if needed. #NewSpace2018

https://twitter.com/wikkit/status/1012130838186807296
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: imprezive on 06/28/2018 05:54 AM
Exciting that weíll get to see a rocket on a plane as soon as next week.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: cd-slam on 06/29/2018 11:17 PM
Quote: @VirginOrbit After that, weíll practice flying with a fully integrated #LauncherOne. On that rocket's final flight, we'll run one more key test: dropping the rocket from Cosmic Girl. It'll free fall all the way back to Earth, collecting data all the way. /unquote

If the rocket free falls all the way back to Earth, won't it make a pretty ugly mess when it gets there? Not to mention the waste of a perfectly good rocket.

Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 06/30/2018 12:10 AM
If the rocket free falls all the way back to Earth, won't it make a pretty ugly mess when it gets there?

Dropping an unfueled rocket in the desert won't make that much of a mess.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: HMXHMX on 06/30/2018 04:25 AM
If the rocket free falls all the way back to Earth, won't it make a pretty ugly mess when it gets there?

Dropping an unfueled rocket in the desert won't make that much of a mess.

I concur.  ;)

This was the result from the 2005 t/Space Proteus drop over a BLM dry lakebed a half hour from Mojave.  About 1/4 scale in comparison to LauncherOne, I reckon.  Even as heavy as some components were, it hardly made a dent.  I tried to locate some of the images of our QuickReach drop test "after-effects" but couldn't find them.  That was more impressive: 72,000 lbm from 34,000 ft...

A sad historical note: the pilot for Proteus on this mission was Mike Alsbury, who died in the SpaceShipTwo accident.
Title: Re: Virgin Galactic preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Robotbeat on 07/02/2018 03:40 AM
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!
This was over 18 months ago. Shouldn't they be further along by now?
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Star One on 07/05/2018 08:11 PM
Quote
In the next few days, weíll start the process of attaching our launch pylon (the ďhooksĒ that secure the rocket to the plane) to #CosmicGirl. Soon after, weíll conduct our first test flights w/ the pylon before moving on to a series of captive carry flights w/ #LauncherOne.

https://mobile.twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/1014948024697536517
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: meekGee on 07/06/2018 04:06 AM
Maybe to underscore Robotbeats's point, it is soon going to be 20 years since SS1 development began...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaled_Composites_Tier_One#History_and_status

Quote
According to Scaled Composites, the concept for the program originated in April 1996, preliminary development began in 1999, and full development began in April 2001.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Star One on 07/09/2018 08:40 PM
Quote
John Fuller, Virgin Orbit: will be integrating LauncherOne pylon with 747 aircraft ďshortlyĒ, with captive carry flight campaign to start soon thereafter. #AIAAPropEnergy

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1016413412170059776
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Asteroza on 07/11/2018 03:59 AM
Quote
In the next few days, weíll start the process of attaching our launch pylon (the ďhooksĒ that secure the rocket to the plane) to #CosmicGirl. Soon after, weíll conduct our first test flights w/ the pylon before moving on to a series of captive carry flights w/ #LauncherOne.

https://mobile.twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/1014948024697536517

In case anyone was confused, you are looking at the launch pylon upside down, as that part needs to be symmetric to mate with the rocket. That part that mates with the aircraft probably isn't symmetric as it needs to fit the left wingbox body fairing area...
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 07/25/2018 01:41 AM
Virgin filed for an FCC permit to do some testing on their avionics (1316-EX-ST-2018):
Quote
Explanation of Experiment:
Virgin Orbit LLC (ďVirgin OrbitĒ) is requesting ďSpecial Temporary Authority (STA)Ē to operate an S-Band
Transmitter in 2200-2290 MHz band. The request is for the ability to sweep across the 2200-2290MHz
band. Virgin Orbit is designing a satellite launch vehicle (ďLauncher OneĒ) that will be air launched from a
modified 747 airplane (ďCosmic GirlĒ). The purpose of requesting an STA license is to analyze the effects
of Launcher Oneís S-Band Telemetry transmitter on 747 radios.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: gongora on 07/25/2018 01:44 AM
and another for testing ground station (1318-EX-ST-2018):
Quote
Explanation of Experiment:
Virgin Orbit LLC (ďVirgin OrbitĒ) is requesting ďSpecial Temporary Authority (STA)Ē to operate an S-Band
Transmitter at 2262MHz. If 2262 MHz is unavailable Virgin Orbit is open to any frequency within 2200-
2290MHz band. The purpose of the experiment is to test the ability of Virgin Orbitís Long Beach ground
station to track satellite launch vehicles. Long Beach ground station is receive only and is located at 4022
E Conant St., Long Beach, CA 90808. Virgin Orbit plans to use this ground station for tracking its satellite
launch vehicles. The plan is to fly a small manned aircraft with Quasonix transmitter and antennas around
Long Beach, CA and track that aircraft using the ground station in Long Beach, CA. The transmitter inside
the aircraft will transmit test data at the assigned frequency. Two different data rates will be tested at the
same assigned frequency. Two Antennas might be used in order to get better coverage, in such a case the
signal from the transmitter will be split between the antennas using a 3dB RF splitter.
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 08/01/2018 11:25 PM
Quote
Ericson: we mated LauncherOne pylon to Virgin Orbitís 747 last week; first captive carry test flight in the next week.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1024758739906248705
Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Pomerantz on 08/06/2018 08:29 PM
For anyone who didn't see the follow-on tweets from Jeff...

Quote from: Jeff Foust on Twitter
Clarification: the upcoming flight is an ďenvelope expansionĒ flight of just the 747 and its new pylon, rather than a full-fledged captive carry flight with a LauncherOne vehicle attached.

(The snark on this next one wounds me, but in the interest of good and faithful transcription...)

Quote from: Jeff Foust on Twitter
But then, I can recall another Virgin Orbit executive saying at NewSpace 2018 in late June that the captive carry flight was taking place in ďa little over a weekĒ, so  Į\_(ツ)_/Į

[And for clarity, I'll point out again that after that rather botched mis-comminucation, we clarified within hours that it was not indeed the plan...]

Quote from: Jeff Foust on Twitter
Also, that flight is apparently in the ďnext weeksĒ and not necessarily next week.


We're making great progress, but we're not flying and never planned to fly a captive carry flight this week.  8)

Title: Re: Virgin Orbit preparing for busy LauncherOne future
Post by: Tomness on 08/06/2018 08:36 PM

We're making great progress, but we're not flying and never planned to fly a captive carry flight this week.  8)
Keep up the amazing work guys. LauncherOne & its family will be amazing vehicles. You guys have crawl before you walk. We are here for the ride.