Virgin Orbit Creates Subsidiary to Focus on National Security Launches

LauncherOne ignites after being released from Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Orbit has created a subsidiary to focus on launching national security payloads aboard its LauncherOne booster. According to VOX Space’s web site:

VOX Space, LLC is a US-incorporated, wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Orbit, LLC. VOX Space provides the national security community of the USA and allied nations with responsive, dedicated, and affordable launch services for small satellites bound for Low Earth Orbit. Headquartered in Manhattan Beach, California, VOX Space can provide study, analysis, integration, and launch services using Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne, while ensuring our customerā€™s critical information is protected.

  • Robert G. Oler

    curious what the cost numbers are on this

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    Virgin has lots of space subsidiaries, but they don’t send anything to space šŸ™

    At least they have Saudi Arabia to keep the lights on.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Which is probably why they now need this subsidiary, to provide a firewall for national security flights.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    About $10 million per launch to get about 400 kg to LEO according to a recent GAO report.

  • Search

    Bingo

  • Robert G. Oler

    thank you…what is interesting to me…is that their prime partner has to be the DoD…and you wonder what kind of sats they have in mind for that kind of price…

  • Zed_WEASEL

    More likely the capability to launch to polar orbits and sun-synchronous orbits on short notice, possibly with no pre-launch announcement.

    Something like near real-time imaging mini, micro & nano satellites seems the likely payloads.

  • Robert G. Oler

    one of the biggest launch customers in the US as a “block” is the US military AND…they are going somewhere different then where they have gone in the past…we are I think on the brink of a new “generation” of satellites in both low and “higher” orbit…and I am trying to figure out where they are moving the constellations. I dont think much of the Trump administration but the Secretary of the AF and the SecDef are pretty clever people

  • duheagle

    The recent Kestrel Eye prototype Earth imaging sat deployed from ISS for the Army might be a clue. This is a low-cost 50 kg “spysat” whose resolution falls between that of Planet’s Dove and Skysat birds. The Army has indicated it might like to put up 30 or more of these birds if the prototype proves out. LauncherOne could deploy several Kestrel Eyes on one mission.

  • Robert G. Oler

    yes…I think that there are three “new” types of constellations coming….in no particular order…I think you are right on the mark with the Kestrel Eye…for recee there almost might be an entire new class of “signals” recee coming…second I suspect that the “servicing experiments” of GEO are the harbinger of some very large platforms in GEO that are “merged” from multiple launches…and serviced…and finally I think that the USAF is getting ready to try a larger X37C with a disposable service module…that has power and propulsion…

  • duheagle

    Interesting notion about the X-37C. If undertaken, that would likely be a “black” program at least until it goes operational. I don’t even try following black projects as it is a specialist game and pretty slim pickings even for them. But an X-37C in the works would certainly answer the question of why USAF might want to see SpaceX build a Raptor-powered bigger upper stage for FH. That would also give SpaceX a second manned vehicle to launch after Dragon 2 enters service next year and before its third manned vehicle – BFR – debuts. That would be all sorts of interesting.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    I’d be thinking more about tactical payloads for short term, highly specific needs than for strategic constellations. The long term assets are usually large craft with lots of senses for bulk data and have orbits that are well known. If you want out of hour intel on a certain area and/or want sensing from something that requires active cooling (cryo), an aircraft launched vehicle will fit the bill perfectly.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You don’t need to make the X-37C crewed. Leaving it unscrewed would leave more space for instrumentation and allow it to stay up for months. It might even have the ability to launch and recover microsats for specific missions as needed.

  • duheagle

    It could do both – be a non-dairy creamer and a floor wax!

    Ginning up an X-37C that can carry people, even it is doesn’t have to would be a very clever way for the USAF space weenies to get buy-in from the ruling Fighter Jock Mafia.