Richard Brandson has unveiled Virgin Galactic’s latest product called LauncherOne. It is a satellite launch platform that has been designed to be cheaper and more efficient than traditional rocket-based launchers. To achieve its goals, LauncherOne supports relatively small 500lbs satellites, and instead of launching them vertically from the ground, Virgin Galatic uses a special plane to bring the launcher as high as possible before firing the final rocket into orbit.
Traditional rockets are typically launched from near the equator. It’s great to get the payload in space, but the satellite may have to move with its own fuel from there to whichever final orbit it needs to be. To do that, it needs to carry more fuel and therefore be heavier and more expensive to build/launch. Virgin says that LauncherOne can be launched from anywhere, and can match the final orbit in a more efficient way.
Testing is still going on, but Virgin Galactic hopes that by the time things are ready for business, LauncherOne will be so “cheap” that even Universities can have their own satellites launched into space. Today, only the richest countries and companies can afford to do so. Video introduction in the full post.
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