Virgin Orbit has rescheduled its second orbital launch attempt for Jan. 10 as another small launch vehicle company, Rocket Lab, announces plans for its first launch of 2021.
Virgin Orbit is preparing to perform a second flight of its LauncherOne small launch vehicle in the second half of December, carrying a set of NASA-sponsored cubesats.
Small satellite launch providers need governments to invest in a diversity of companies and to avoid creating monopolies, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said.
Virgin Orbit plans to invest in Sky and Space Global (SAS), the financially troubled satellite constellation company, and partner with it on launch and satellite services.
ExoTerra Resources won a NASA Small Business Innovation Research award to develop an upper stage to fit Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne.
Virgin Orbit has asked OneWeb’s bankruptcy court to require OneWeb pay $46.3 million on a contract termination fee for 35 LauncherOne missions it canceled in 2018
Executives with several major small launch vehicle companies say both the economic repercussions of the pandemic and the growing interest by the U.S. government in such vehicles could reshape the industry.
The first flight of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket failed to reach orbit in May when a propellant line broke seconds after the ignition of the rocket’s first stage engine, the company’s chief executive said July 22.
NASA plans to issue multiple contracts in the coming months for smallsat launch services in the second phase of a program intended to support the emerging small launch vehicle industry.
The first half of 2020 has been sluggish for the commercial launch industry, but its problems can’t be explained solely by the coronavirus pandemic.
Virgin Orbit announced May 20 it will make the first flight of its LauncherOne air-launched vehicle as soon as May 24, but is setting modest expectations about the probability of success.