Virgin Galactic Partners With Huntsville Firm on LauncherOne

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Virgin Galactic is partnering with Zero Point Frontiers Corp. in the development of its LauncherOne rocket, an air-launch vehicle that will place small satellites into orbit:

“ZPFC has been an important member of the team in the early days of designing LauncherOne,” Virgin Galactic CTO Steve Isakowitz said in a statement. “We wanted to start from a blank sheet of paper and organically construct the optimal launch vehicle to meet our goals of a low cost launch vehicle. ZPFC’s support is excellent in ensuring that we looked at the full range of options, but were still able to quickly select down to the best technical paths.”

Virgin Galactic Vice President for Special Projects William Pomerantz said turning to Huntsville for technical help was an easy call. “Huntsville has an excellent reputation as a hotbed for bright ideas and smart people,” Pomerantz said in a recent email interview. “As we built up our corporate team, it was certainly logical that we’d take a close look at Huntsville and the firms based there. Zero Point Frontiers had the right mix of technical experience, entrepreneurial spirit, and industry knowledge to make them a strong addition to our project.”

Zero Point Frontiers Corp. is a four-year old Huntsville engineering company with about two dozen employees. Its high-tech offices in a converted textile mill on Meridian Street house about two dozen young engineers and other technical staff and feature vintage science fiction posters on the walls and doors that open to the sound of the sliding doors on the “Star Trek” television series. Zero Point founder and President Jason Hundley named the company for the “zero point,” or beginning of a technical project where terms and goals can be clarified before development begins.

“Zero Point Frontiers believes that a better future begins by working on it today,” Hundley said this week in an email interview. “We intend to work with space, energy, nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology because those technologies will interact to change the world.”

“We are in Phase 0 in our company’s development: We are establishing ourselves in one of our identified domains (space) and are busy identifying and extracting knowledge, pursuing technologies, and supporting existing projects with NASA, DoD, and commercial entities, Hundley said. “Phase 1 begins once our space business area matures to the point where we can enter the next domain area (energy).”

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  • Robert Clark

    Cool. This would be major advance if they could make that upper space stage also reusable, to get a fully reusable system.