The newest Virgin company is Virgin Orbit. As you can see from the photo (look close under the wing), Richard Branson is making another major investment, this time its building rockets and going into space to help launch the smallsat revolution.
Why is Branson interested in leading the smallsat revolution? Mainly because he has the money to do it and although the government is concerned about the long term performance of these relatively inexpensive devices in what has been their domain there is a major opportunity. Even though a lot of it falls into what I like to call The Big Promise, after the successful delivery of sub-meter imagery and high – definition video last November by SkyBox Imaging the skeptics had to regroup. For now imagery may be the killer app.
As seen in the photo, Cosmic Girl, a dedicated 747 -400 will carry LauncherOne, a two-stage, expendable, LOX/RP-1 rocket to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before release for its rocket-powered flight to orbit. Starting each mission with an airplane rather than a traditional groundbased launch pad offers performance benefits in terms of payload capacity, but more importantly, air-launch offers an unparalleled level of flexibility.
If I had to put my money on Richard or Elon, it wouldn’t even be close. Richard will get it done and make real money.
Dreaming about being a rocket scientist? Have a look at the video.