Virgin Orbit Scores First Defense Launch Contract, Plus a Bullish Outlook!


The Contract…

After a six month period of discussion, Virgin Orbit gets its first government defense contract (Nov.16) for a LauncherOne mission. The U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program partnered with the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) to make the launch award to Virgin Orbit. The launch will carry a selection of Space Test Program payloads to be chosen closer to launch.

Dan Hart, chief executive of Virgin Orbit, states in a phone interview, “We spent the better part of six months or so in discussions … DIUx has the mission to be agile and really drive forward, so we were able to really approach things quickly and efficiently.” He also believes the Defense Department’s interest in LauncherOne stems from a growing desire in resiliency in space systems, especially those in small satellites and launch platforms.

Virgin Orbit forms a new Subsidy…

Upon news of this contract, Virgin Orbit also announces the formation of a new subsidiary called VOX Space. This subsidiary will provide 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. VOX Space will be in charge of mission management, engineering, and other related services for LaucherOne.


Final Testing & Bullish thoughts…

LauncherOne is in the final stages of development. Its carrier aircraft, a Boeing 747 that was formerly a passenger airliner for Virgin Atlantic, is currently in flight tests after undergoing modifications to accommodate the launch vehicle. A pathfinder version of the rocket, meanwhile, has been shipped from the company’s factory in Long Beach, California to the Mojave Desert for testing, including static fire tests of both stages.

Lastly, Hart said Virgin Orbit has been in talks with a wide range of other customers! “It’s a very active market right now,” he said. “We’re pretty bullish.”


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