Virgin Orbit to deploy SpaceBelt satellites

Virgin Orbit has announced that commercial satellite developer Cloud Constellation Corporation has selected the LauncherOne service for deployment of the SpaceBelt constellation of space-based cloud storage data centres.

In an agreement signed by executives from the two firms at the World Satellie Business Week even in Paris, Cloud Constellation selected Virgin Orbit as its launch partner for a dozen satellites that will become the communications backbone of the SpaceBelt system.

SpaceBelt will provide a secure and global data storage network based in space. Users will be able to transport and store large blocks of data quickly and securely without exposure to terrestrial communications infrastructure – protecting their critical data from unauthorised access and also supporting global communications at reduced latency of today’s multi-hop networks.

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The initial deployment of the SpaceBelt network will be powered by a dozen satellites placed into low inclination orbits. Taking full advantage of LauncherOne as a dedicated launch service for small satellites and as a uniquely flexible service enabled by air-launch, the SpaceBelt constellation will be deployed in 12 individual missions. The first launch is expected to happen as early as 2019.

Cloud Constellation President Cliff Beek said: “The LauncherOne system was literally designed for companies and missions like ours. We are offering our customers a highly reliable, highly flexible service – and the team at Virgin Orbit are supplying us with exactly those same values in turn. LauncherOne is a critical enabler of our mission.”

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart added: “We’re thrilled to have been selected to deploy the SpaceBelt constellation. The work that SpaceBelt will do is a great example of the revolutionary capabilities that are coming with the sharp rise of small satellite manufacturing, business, and launch. These missions wouldn’t have been possible even a few short years ago. Now, innovators working for creative companies can develop an idea like SpaceBelt, get it to orbit, and achieve profitability within a very short period of time.”

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Virgin Orbit is in the process of qualification and test flight for the LauncherOne service, which includes both a two-stage expendable rocket and a fully-reusable air-launch platform. The company recently completed assembly of a complete pathfinder rocket at its factory in Long Beach, California; and Cosmic Girl, its Boeing 747 flying launch pad has begun its flight test campaign. The system is designed to provide highly responsive, reliable and affordable flights to Low Earth Orbit to small satellites. 

Find out how Virgin Orbit developed a Boeing 747 that once flew for Virgin Atlantic into its flying launch pad.

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