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Space Science

Virgin Galactic Announces New Satellite Launch Vehicle 102

An anonymous reader writes "Virgin Galactic has announced a new craft called LauncherOne, which it will use to put satellites into orbit. 'It appears to leverage some of the hardware already developed for SpaceShipTwo, Virgin's suborbital tourist vehicle. Like SpaceShipTwo, the new rocket rides up underneath Virgin's big carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, to about 50,000 feet. After release, the rocket drops for approximately four seconds before the first stage ignites. After the first stage burns out, a second stage takes the satellite to orbit.' Launching from a moving airplane eliminates many cost and scheduling concerns inherent to ground-based launches, and it's much easier to reach a broad range of trajectories for putting objects into orbit. According to the press release, LauncherOne will get objects up to 225kg into orbit for less than $10 million."
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Virgin Galactic Announces New Satellite Launch Vehicle

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  • by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:14PM (#40640445)

    Orbital Sciences build something very similar, called Pegasus. It's air launched, is quite reliable, can throw 440kg into LEO, has a very good launch record -- and costs roughly as much ($11m a pop, if memory serves correctly.)

    Branson is nuts if he thinks he can prevail against Orbital in this segment of the launch market.

  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:17PM (#40640473) Homepage Journal

    ... and to some extent he is as the CEO and the figurehead for Virgin. But he does ambitious stuff nobody else is doing.

    I hope he makes mad profits in the space business and other companies see the potential.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gma i l .com> on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:41PM (#40640729) Journal

    The Concorde will never be replaced. It was horrendously expensive and in the same league of complexity as the SR-71. It was given to private industry for a song and a dance after a horrifically expensive government-funded development and build process. The Concorde was always horrifically expensive to fly on, more than first-class tickets on conventional airliners.

    The super-rich will have supersonic private jets soon enough, but there will certainly never be another supersonic airliner. Us proles will never fly supersonic, although Boeing is working on a near-sonic design that could actually make sense.

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:45PM (#40640781) Homepage

    Really low-mass spacecraft launches are more expensive per kilogram; that's just the way it works. But it does go to show that all of the people on Slashdot several years ago talking about how Branson is just a hop, skip, and a jump from cheap orbital space travel because he made a suborbital joyride, and how their prices were going to blow everyone's away because the joyride cost hundreds of thousands per person instead of millions ... well, I hope this is a dose of reality as to how much more expensive and difficult orbital travel is than suborbital.

  • I doubt he cares (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @02:14PM (#40641065)
    When I met Richard Branson he was living on a houseboat on the Thames. Unlike many of the people who have made a lot of money, he didn't start off rich. He seems to have been successful because he is good at delegation, focusses on the bottom line, and looks after his managers. If he wants to sell space tourism, some very clever people will have worked out how it will get to the bottom line.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak