Virgin Orbit to Expands Fleet with 2 More Boeing 747s

L3Harris modified Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl airborne launch pad at its Waco, Texas aircraft modification center. (Credit: L3Harris Technologies)

Highlights:

  • Virgin Orbit signs agreement to secure two new airframes to meet U.S. national security and its allies’ launch demands
  • L3Harris will modify one aircraft, aims to deliver Virgin Orbit’s second airborne launcher by 2023
  • New cargo configuration expected to enable foreign spaceport launch and transport of rockets, support equipment

LONG BEACH, Calif. and MELBOURNE, Fla., May 10, 2022 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB), a leading satellite launch company, has signed an agreement with L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) to acquire two Boeing 747-400 airframes to support the growing need for U.S. national security and allies’ satellite launch demands.  

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Virgin Orbit Announces Renaming of Its National Security Arm and Introduction of New Board Members

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB), a leading satellite launch provider, announced today the renaming of its national security arm. Formerly “VOX Space,” Virgin Orbit’s U.S.-based, wholly owned subsidiary engaged with national security organizations in the U.S. and its allies will now do so under the name “Virgin Orbit National Systems.”

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Report: UAE Working with Blue Origin to Establish Spaceport, Ends Agreement with Virgin Galactic

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

At the end of a long article about the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) efforts to develop a virbrant space industry, The National revealed this bit of news from Ibrahim Al Qasim, deputy director general of the UAE Space Agency.

Mr Al Qasim revealed to The National that the agreement that was signed in 2019 with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to bring space tourism flights to Al Ain Airport is no longer in effect, without explaining further.

Instead, the country is now working with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to set up spaceports.

He said discussions with the company, which has already flown 20 people on its suborbital flights, are under way.

Any agreement to fly Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle would be dependent upon a technology safeguards agreement between the UAE and the United States. An agreement with New Zealand allows Rocket Lab to launch Electron rockets from the company’s spaceport on Mahia Peninsula. Brazil has signed an agreement that will allow U.S. companies to launch from the Alcantara Space Center.

The UAE state of Abu Dhabi has been a major investor in Virgin Galactic, which plans to fly suborbital tourism flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. In 2009, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Aabar Investments put in $280 million for a 31.7 percent share of Richard Branson’s space company. Aabar later invested an additional $100 million for a 38.7 percent share of Virgin Galactic.

The additional $100 million investment was intended to help finance the development of a small satellite booster that would be air launched from WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft when it wasn’t used for SpaceShipTwo suborbital flights. A new company, Virgin Orbit, split off from Virgin Galactic. The company dumped plans to use WhiteKnightTwo; instead, it uses a larger booster, LauncherOne, that is dropped from a modified Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl.

Virgin Orbit Suffers Net Loss of $157.3 Million in 2021

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)
  • Successfully launched 7 customer satellites onboard its LauncherOne rocket during the Above the Clouds mission on January 13, 2022, the company’s third successful launch.
  • Full year 2021 revenue increased to $7.4 million, up from $3.8 million in the prior year period.
  • Growing backlog of contracts, including selection by NASA’s launch service program to support the agency’s VADR missions.
  • Completed its going public transaction and began trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange on December 30, 2021.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) (“Virgin Orbit” or the “Company”), the responsive launch and space solutions company, today announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2021.

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New Mexico Seeks to Attract Virgin Galactic’s Manufacturing Facility to Spaceport America

A majority of Virgin Galactic’s future Astronauts gather with Sir Richard Branson (center) for a group photo at Virgin Galactic FAITH hangar in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013. Behind the group is the WhiteKnightTwo mated with SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Updated on March 5 at 8:34 a.m. PST with additional information about space companies located in the Los Angeles area and the benefits of industry clusters to employers and employees.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The state of New Mexico has proposed that Virgin Galactic establish a production facility at Spaceport America, which is where the company plans to begin flying tourists on suborbital space rides later this year. KRQE TV reports:

The New Mexico Economic Development Department says they have a proposal to bring Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing to the Spaceport. Right now, the manufacturing location is in the Mojave desert. Spaceport America has five permanent tenants that are conducting a variety of experiments; including one company that uses laser technology to help land on the moon.

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Virgin Orbit Adds Distinguished Spaceflight Engineering Executive Amid Operations Scale Up

LONG BEACH, Calif., JANUARY 28, 2022 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Leading US-based space launch and space services company Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) announced today the addition of industry leader Dr. Candace Givens as its new Vice President of Engineering. Dr. Givens joins the Virgin Orbit team as the company scales up its flight rate to accommodate high demand seen from commercial customers, the national security community, the international community, and NASA.

Dr. Givens joins a team that has uniquely demonstrated the ability to bring new technology to spaceflight and move it into regular launch operations—Having now completed their third commercial spaceflight and having deployed 26 satellites during the first 12 months of operations. In her role as Vice President of Engineering Dr. Givens will work closely with Virgin Orbit chief engineer and senior vice president of technology Kevin Sagis who has been instrumental in developing, proving and establishing the air-launched LauncherOne System. 

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Sultanate of Oman and SatRevolution Announce International Consortium for Country’s first Satellite Launch and First Mission to Deep Space

REC satellite (Credit: SatRevolution)

MUSCAT, Oman (SatRevolution PR) — The Sultanate of Oman has selected Poland’s SatRevolution S.A. (“SatRev”) to deliver and operate its proprietary nanosatellite technologies alongside partners Virgin Orbit, a leading US-based launch company, Polish capital group and AI data analytics specialists TUATARA, and Omani-based emerging technology innovator ETCO, under a framework agreement for collaboration on Oman’s first mission to deep space and for delivering small satellites to Low Earth Orbit, the first in the country’s history. The framework agreement was signed today in Muscat by the five consortium members.

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Sultanate of Oman and Virgin Orbit Announce International Consortium on Country’s First Mission to Deep Space

  • Oman selects innovative space companies Virgin Orbit, SatRevolution, TUATARA and ETCO as mission partners to launch the sultanate’s first satellites to Low Earth Orbit
  • The first satellite is scheduled to launch from the UK’s spaceport Cornwall in 2022
  • The Oman mission to deep space will be targeted for launch as early as Q3 2024

MUSCAT, Oman (Virgin Orbit PR) — The Sultanate of Oman, leading US-based launch company Virgin Orbit, Polish Small Satellite manufacturer and operator SatRevolution, Poland-originated AI data analytics specialists TUATARA, and Omani-based emerging technology innovator ETCO, have together signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration on Oman’s first mission to deep space. The same agreement also lays the foundation for the consortium to collaborate on delivering additional small satellites to Low Earth Orbit, including the first in Oman’s history.

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Virgin Orbit Mission Brings Air Launch Closer to UK Operations

LauncherOne ignites on its way to space. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

Satellite launch from Spaceport Cornwall is a step closer following Virgin Orbit’s successful ‘Above the Clouds’ mission in the US.

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency welcomes the news that Virgin Orbit has successfully completed its third mission from California on Thursday 13 January, launching several satellites into orbit from beneath the wing of a 747.

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Virgin Orbit Launches 7 Payloads into Orbit

Cosmic Girl after takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA, January 13, 2022 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB), the responsive launch and space solutions company, confirmed it successfully deployed into orbit all 7 customer satellites onboard its LauncherOne rocket during today’s Above the Clouds mission.

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Virgin Orbit Delays Launch to Thursday

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

Virgin Orbit has postponed a satellite launch scheduled for Wednesday by 24 hours so engineers could take “a little extra time to thoroughly validate the system and to check our sensor readings.

“We are now targeting Thursday, Jan 13 as our first available launch opportunity, with potential takeoff between ~1pm & 3:30pm Pacific. We have additional windows available in the coming days, if needed,” the company tweeted.

“The launch system, the team, and our customers’ satellites remain in excellent shape as we prepare for the start of our latest mission. Set your alarms and be sure to tune into our mission livestream on Thursday, which kicks off at 12:30pm PT/20:30 GMT,” Virgin Orbit added.

LauncherOne will place seven satellites into orbit after being dropped from its Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft off the coast of California. The flight will originate from the Mojave Air and Space Port.

Virgin Orbit to Launch Satellites From California on Wednesday

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will attempt to make it three in a row by launching a group of commercial and government satellites off the California coast on Wednesday afternoon.

Virgin Orbit’s Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl carrier plane is scheduled to take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. PST (21:00–23:30 GMT). The aircraft will drop the LauncherOne booster over the Pacific Ocean near the Channel Islands approximately one hour after takeoff.

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Virgin Orbit Begins Trading on NASDAQ After Merger with NextGen Acquisition Closes

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

LONG BEACH, Calif. & BOCA RATON, Fla. (NextGen Acquisition/Virgin Orbit PR) — NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (NASDAQ: NGCA) (“NextGen”) today announced the closing of its business combination with Vieco USA, Inc., the parent company of Virgin Orbit (“Virgin Orbit” or the “Company”).

As of the closing of the transaction, which was approved by NextGen stockholders on December 28, 2021, NextGen has changed its name to “Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc.” Virgin Orbit’s common stock and warrants are expected to begin to trade on the NASDAQ Stock Market (“NASDAQ”) on December 30, 2021, under the ticker symbols “VORB” and “VORBW”, respectively.

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Merger Leaves Virgin Orbit with Less Than Half of Funding Originally Planned

Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a clear sign of investor skepticism, Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will receive only about $228 million of the $483 million in growth capital it expected after merging with the NextGen Acquisition II special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

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