Jul 11, 2012
Cut-price small satellite launch system unveiled by Virgin GalacticBack
Abu Dhabi|Aircraft|Sierra Nevada Space Systems|Surrey Satellite Technologies Limited|System|Systems|The Spaceship Company|Tourism|Virgin Galactic|United Kingdom|United States|USD|Carrier Aircraft|Product|Satellite Designs|Satellite Launch Rocket|Satellite Launch Services|Satellite Manufacturers|Services|Systems|Burt Rutan|Infrastructure|Richard Branson|SpaceShipTwo
© Reuse this
WK2 was originally developed to carry the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) suborbital passenger spacecraft. WK2 will carry SS2 to altitudes around 16 000 m and release the spacecraft, which will then ignite its rocket motor and soar into space for a suborbital flight, after which it will re-enter the atmosphere and glide back to base.
The same approach will be used with LauncherOne, except that, of course, the end result will be the orbital flight of a small satellite. The new rocket will be able to launch satellites with a mass of up to 225 kg, and is forecast to be able to do so at prices of below $10-million.
Because LauncherOne will be dropped from an aircraft, launch infrastructure costs will be much reduced and it will be possible to do launches from many locations, giving great flexibility to customers. Simultaneously, two of the world’s leading small satellite manufacturers, Surrey Satellite Technologies Limited, of the UK, and Sierra Nevada Space Systems, of the US, announced that they would develop satellite designs that would be compatible with the LauncherOne specifications.
Virgin Galactic is a US subsidiary of renowned British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. The LauncherOne concept was first floated by Virgin in 2009 and the first commercial flights could take place in 2016. A number of companies have already signed up to use the system. Virgin Galactic has a partner in the LauncherOne programme, Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments PJS.
Like WK2 and SS2, LauncherOne is a product of The Spaceship Company, which is a joint venture between the Virgin Group and Scaled Composites (the company which designed and originally developed the WK2 and SS2). Scaled Composites was founded by equally renowned US aerospace engineer and designer Burt Rutan.
Meanwhile, SS2 is expected to make its first powered flight before the end of this year, and 529 people have booked seats for flights into space on the craft – this number is greater than the total number of people who have ever been in space.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Science and Technology News
The University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) has launched a new chemistry laboratory aimed at boosting its efforts to develop life-saving medicines. “The new medicinal chemistry laboratory is expected to attract significant...
Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) Awards convenor Spencer Erling says the quality of the entries for this year’s Steel Awards easily matched the outstanding quality of previous years. “We are going through very tough times in the steel...
Recent Research Reports
This Week's Magazine
Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, has the potential to completely change the relationships between individual consumers, professional designers and manufacturers. So argued Loughborough University Reader in Computer Aided Product Design Dr Ian...
Airbus Defence and Space: Military Aircraft has highlighted that its A330 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) has significant commonalities with the Airbus A330-200 commercial airliner, upon which it is based. The South African Air Force (SAAF) once operated a fleet of...
Financial services provider Nedbank launched the second edition of its Carbon Footprinting Guide earlier this month, which is aimed at demystifying carbon footprint approaches and help readers grasp the main concepts of carbon measuring, monitoring, reporting and...
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Caterpillar’s first backhoe loader. This also coincides with the worldwide release of its latest-generation F2 series backhoe loader, which was launched at supply chain services company Barloworld Logistics’ Big Dig Day in...
A shortage of software engineers is leading to fewer information technology (IT) projects in private and public sector organisations. This also places a dampener on the economy, as IT is an integral part of business and civil service, says University of Witwatersrand...