Virgin Orbit partners with the Southwest Research Institute

Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl adapted Boeing 747 rocket launcher from below
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
27 August 2021

Virgin Orbit has announced a new partnership with the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), an independent nonprofit research and development organisation. Together, the two organisations will explore mission opportunities using Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system and SwRI’s expertise in space mission development. They will also explore potential opportunities for joint manufacturing of SwRI’s space platforms and delivery of space services to Virgin Orbit’s customers.

Virgin Orbit is developing several partnerships to offer its customers bundled services. Virgin Orbit and SwRI are particularly interested in collaborating on stewardship programmes that use space data to inform critical decisions around weather and for environmental monitoring purposes.

Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl on the ground with LauncherOne
Virgin Orbit

As part of the agreement, Virgin Orbit will look at the possibility of manufacturing SwRI Space Vehicle platforms at its manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California. Virgin Orbit and SwRI will also evaluate opportunities to develop and launch missions to space together, including the deployment of satellite constellations, to provide comprehensive space service offerings to customers.

“As the Virgin Orbit team works to build on our recent successes, we’re excited to join forces with organisations like SwRI to propel forward our mission of opening space for good. We’re especially looking forward to combining our uniquely responsive air launch capabilities with SwRI’s broad spacecraft expertise to provide turnkey solutions for our most pressing environmental challenges,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart.

Earlier in 2021, Virgin Orbit completed its second successful flight to space, Tubular Bells: Part One, which delivered several payloads for the US Department of Defense Space Test Program to a precise target orbit.

Visit Virgin Orbit to find out more.