LauncherOne Operations

Providing affordable, reliable and flexible launch for a new generation of satellites

Governments, companies, and even individuals all around the world are now building incredibly innovative small satellites. Once a team of satellite innovators has invested their time and money perfecting their satellite technology, they don’t want to sit around waiting for a launch date that could be years in the future. The world’s leading satellite inventors deserve a launch vehicle that works the way their satellites work. That’s why LauncherOne is built to support quick, responsive, and affordable cubesat and microsatellite missions.

LauncherOne has been designed from the start to be affordable, reliable, flexible, and responsive. We accomplish those ambitious goals through the way we design the system, the way we build it, and way we operate it. One critically important aspect of our method is the way we launch our system.

Rather than launching from a traditional launch pad at a spaceport, LauncherOne is launched from our dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft, called Cosmic Girl.

 

Cosmic Girl will carry LauncherOne to at an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before releasing the launch vehicle to begin its rocket-powered flight to orbit. Starting each mission with an airplane rather than a traditional launch pad offers performance benefits in terms of payload capacity, but more importantly, air-launch offers an unparalleled level of flexibility. LauncherOne will operate from a variety of locations independently of traditional launch ranges—which are often congested with traffic—and will have the ability operate through or around a variety of weather conditions and other impediments that delay traditional launches.

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Once released from the carrier aircraft, the LauncherOne rocket fires up its single main stage engine, a 73,500 lbf, LOX/RP-1 rocket engine called the “NewtonThree.” Typically, this engine will fire for approximately three minutes. After stage separation, the single upper stage engine, a 5,000 lbf LOX/RP-1 rocket engine called the “NewtonFour” will carry the satellite(s) into orbit. Typically, the second stage will execute multiple burns totaling nearly six minutes. Both the NewtonThree and the NewtonFour are highly reliable liquid rocket engines designed, tested, and built by Virgin Galactic.

At the end of this sequence, LauncherOne will deploy our customers’ satellite (or satellites) into their desired orbit. Both stages of LauncherOne will be safely deorbited, while the carrier aircraft will return to a predetermined airport, where it can be quickly prepared for its next flight.