LONG BEACH, Calif., June 25, 2015 (OneWeb PR) – Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, has signed a contract with OneWeb Ltd. to serve as one of its inaugural satellite launch providers. Under the terms of the Launch Services Agreement, Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne rocket will perform 39 satellite launches for OneWeb—one of the largest commercial procurements of launches in history. Beyond the firm contract, the agreement provides OneWeb with options for 100 additional launches.
OneWeb—which today announced new investment of $500M backed by world-class equity partners including Airbus Group, Bharti Enterprises, Grupo Salinas, Hughes Network Systems, (Hughes), a subsidiary of EchoStar Corp. Intelsat, Qualcomm Incorporated, The Coca-Cola Company and Virgin Group —is building a global communications system that will enable affordable broadband access around the world including in areas currently unserved or underserved by terrestrial providers.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said: “Virgin Galactic is hard at work to provide responsive launch capability to support OneWeb’s historic constellation. The scale of this order will drive our manufacturing rates to achieve unprecedented cost reductions for small satellite launch. We are excited to support OneWeb and its partners as they harness the potential of small satellites to create new opportunities for all.”
To achieve its goal of connecting the planet, OneWeb required a means of launching its satellites that is both affordable and flexible. Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne will enable an unprecedented quick launch and replenishment capability for OneWeb. LauncherOne is an affordable, flexible, and dedicated ride to orbit for small satellites, with the flight rates and performance capabilities to support OneWeb and other customers. Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne program is being developed by a staff of 120 engineers and technicians working from a new 150,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California, with rocket engine testing performed at the company’s facilities in Mojave, California.
ABOUT VIRGIN GALACTIC
Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial spaceline. Founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, Virgin Galactic will transform access to space for the benefit of life on Earth. To date, 700 men and women from over 50 countries— greater than the total number of humans who have ever been to space—have reserved places to fly on Virgin Galactic’s reusable space launch system, consisting of carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo and spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo are manufactured and tested in Mojave, California, by its manufacturing wing, The Spaceship Company. Spaceflight operations will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport. Virgin Galactic is also developing LauncherOne, an affordable dedicated ride to orbit for small satellites. As an air-launched rocket, LauncherOne is designed to provide commercial and government-built satellites a flexible launch service that meets each customer’s specific mission requirements. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and launches will be conducted from various locations.