Concept of Operations
Optimize your mission performance
A major advantage of LauncherOne is that, thanks to WhiteKnightTwo, we can stage operations from a wide variety of launch sites. Tailored selection of the launch site based on the requirements of each specific mission will allow our customers to truly optimize performance and to get the most possible value out of their satellite’s ride to space.
In the near term, WhiteKnightTwo will be based at Spaceport America, which we are happy and proud to call the home of our suborbital program. After coordinating with the customer and with regulatory bodies like the FAA, WhiteKnightTwo will fly out to the customer’s desired launch facility and conduct operations from there. Our system allows for a minimal amount of ground infrastructure and the minimum level of range costs for our customers.
For the foreseeable future, LauncherOne operations will be conducted from the United States. To stage operations elsewhere, such as the proposed Spaceport Abu Dhabi, would require various regulatory licenses.
WhiteKnightTwo is an all-composite, high-altitude, heavy-lift aircraft initially designed for carrying SpaceShipTwo. The first WhiteKnightTwo, Eve, is fully constructed and is nearing the end of her flight test program, as she approaches her 100th test flight. WhiteKnightTwo already has a proven capability for rapid call up and launch-on-demand, having successfully completed captive carry missions with SpaceShipTwo with turnarounds as quick as twenty-four hours.
LauncherOne stages and shroud, including structures, engines, and Launch Vehicle/Pylon Interface, will be manufactured at The Spaceship Company’s FAITH production facility. Other components, such as avionics and secondary subsystems will be delivered to the production facility by world-class suppliers.
If appropriate, based on mission-specific requirements, LauncherOne’s first and second stages will be mated, checked out, and shipped to the primary staging base (or any other known forward staging base) for storage. LauncherOne can be stored unfueled, with fully charged batteries to support avionics operations, until WhiteKnightTwo and the customer’s spacecraft arrive. Alternatively, the customer’s payload can be integrated at a central Virgin Galactic facility such as FAITH, or even “bolted-on” at the launch site shortly before take-off.
At the designated point in space and time, LauncherOne will be released from WhiteKnightTwo at an altitude of approximately 50,000 feet above mean sea level. LauncherOne will free fall for approximately four seconds before the first stage ignites. The two stages operate in sequence, with the potential for the second stage to relight, and the payload is delivered to a designated low-earth orbit.