Thursday, July 12, 2012

Virgin Galactic unveils LauncherOne

engadget reports: [edited]

Building a satellite, that's not really much of a problem anymore. Getting them launched, well, that's what separates the big boys from the wannabes. Virgin's Richard Branson believes he has the answer to that - LauncherOne.

The delivery system for Earth orbiters is based around the WhiteKnightTwo, the same launch platform used by SpaceShipTwo to reach its sub-orbital heights. The tube-like rocket of the LauncherOne is carried up to 50,000 feet by its mother ship, before detaching and initiating its two-stage rocket engines.

The current design is capable of delivering 500-pound payloads into Low Earth Orbit, while lighter satellites of 225 pounds could reach Sun-Synchronous Low Earth Orbit. Virgin Galactic says it has already signed up its first customers, including SkyBox Imaging and GeoOptics.

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