Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s space travel company, has presented a low-cost option for delivering satellites into orbit called ‘LauncherOne’ at the Farnborough Airshow near London last week.
The two-stage rocket which is slated to begin sending satellites to space in 2016 has a cargo capacity of up to 500 pounds and costs under $10 million. Four private companies have already said they would use LauncherOne for various purposes.
“It will be a critical new tool for the global research community, enabling us all to learn about our home planet more quickly and affordably,” said Branson during the presentation.
“Now, LauncherOne is bringing the price of satellite launch into the realm of affordability for innovators everywhere, from start-ups and schools to established companies and national space agencies. It will be a critical new tool for the global research community, enabling us all to learn about our home planet more quickly and affordably.”
The rocket will be launched from Virgin Galactic’s proven WhiteKnightTwo, “the uniquely capable aircraft” which was initially designed to carry SpaceShipTwo, a vessel that will bring first tourist to space soon—Virgin Galatic has already registered more than 500 people for space tourism trips aboard SpaceShipTwo. All major components of SpaceShipTwo’s rocket system have been tested and qualified for powered flight, set to begin before the year’s end.