Virgin Galactic adds satellite launches to space tourism
The company, which mooted the idea in February, has established a division that will both develop a launch rocket and seek satellite customers for it. Satellite propulsion and launch expert Adam Baker from Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) in Guildford, UK, has been hired to run Virgin’s satellite venture. He has previously overseen the design and launch of many microsatellites at SSTL, including its Disaster Monitoring Constellation.
Behind the decision to press ahead, says Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn, are encouraging results from the flight tests of WhiteKnightTwo, the four-engined aircraft that will loft the SpaceShipTwo tourist craft to a height of 15 kilometres before the latter separates and fires its rocket motor….
Virgin’s stated aim is to reduce the cost of lofting small 50-kilogram satellites into low Earth orbit from about $10 million today to about $1 million.
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