Guam, an island in the Pacific, has been chosen to become the site of Virgin Orbit’s newest launch site.
The island’s remote location is the ideal place to create an additional launch site for the company’s LauncherOne service. This is partly due to its remote location, but also to do with its close proximity to the equator, as the 747-launched rocket can serve all inclinations.
Thanks to the new location, LauncherOne will be able to deliver more than 500kg to a 500km equatorial orbit, enhancing the flexibility of Virgin Orbit’s launch operations.
By adding Guam – a low-latitude site with clear launch trajectories in almost all directions – to the list of launch sites, Virgin Orbit’s customers will have more control over where their small spacecraft are deployed from.
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart says: “Launching from Guam gives us easy access to every orbital inclination our customers need. With our air-launched system, we will fly out as any other airplane, move out to sea and release our rocket. Our minimal footprint coupled with Guam’s natural launch location results in a great match.
“With the continued support from Governor Leon Guererro and our partners in the DOD, we are well on our way towards providing new launch opportunities for small satellites that have waited too long for their ride to space, and we’re thankful to the local government in Guam for their enthusiasm and support.”
Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system is now in the final phases of testing, after successfully demonstrating all major assemblies with multiple flight vehicles in production. As testing continues, Virgin Orbit is on track to conduct its first orbital test flight later this year.
“This is a rare opportunity for our island to be front and centre of a groundbreaking space industry,” said Guam’s Governor Lou Leon Guerrero.
Meanwhile, Virgin Orbit and EXOLAUNCH, a leading Germany-based launch services provider and cluster integrator for small satellites, have signed an agreement to deliver small satellites into low Earth orbit. Virgin Orbit aims to deliver EXOLAUNCH customers’ payloads on dedicated and rideshare missions via LauncherOne as early as 2020.
Head over to Virgin Obit to find out more about the Guam launch site, the EXOLAUNCH agreement and the latest from across the business.