Celebrity billionaire Richard Branson talks up Virgin Orbit Guam launch

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Guam was selected as the second launch site for Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne Service. LauncherOne is a flexible launch service for commercial and government-built satellites. (Photo from Virgin Orbit)
  • LauncherOne is a simple, expendable, launch vehicle designed to place small satellites of up to 500 kg / 1100 lbm into a wide range of Low Earth
    Orbits (LEO)*
  • LauncherOne is carried to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet by the 747-400 carrier aircraft called Cosmic Girl*
  • Virgin Orbit announced that Guam has been selected as the second site for its LauncherOne Service in April.

*From Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne Service Guide

A satellite launch on Guam could occur before the end of the year, according to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who spoke at the 2019  Air, Space & Cyber Conference this week.

The Air Force Association’s annual event showcases the latest air, space, and cyber technologies and innovations. 

“We are going to be launching a satellite for you the U.S. Air Force from Guam in the next few months and we’re going to be launching a satellite for the UK Air Force from Cornwall in England and that’s the exciting thing we can, we can launch 3,000 miles apart. We can go into any orbit anywhere in the world, which is not possible for land land-based launches,” Branson said. 

Branson delivered the keynote address at the conference and was responding to a question on whether he is seeing other governments interested in rapid launch or just the United States.

In April,  Virgin Orbit announced that Guam has been selected as the second site for its LauncherOne Service. 

LauncherOne is a flexible service for commercial and government-built satellites. It uses a customized 747-400 aircraft as its “flying launchpad.”  According to Virgin Orbit, this mobile approach substantially reduces the expense required for infrastructure at each launch site.

According to Virgin Orbit, the addition of Guam as a site location enhances the flexibility of Virgin Orbit’s launch operations, adding a low-latitude site with clear launch trajectories in almost all directions, giving Virgin Orbit’s customers unparalleled control over where and when their small spacecraft are deployed.