United Kingdom: Virgin Galactic is best known for its focus on space tourism. Virgin has promised that, it will eventually carry human passengers for a brief ride to space in return for a hefty fee. The company was founded by English billionaire Richard Branson.
However, Virgin’s human spaceflight efforts have suffered several delays and problems. In the meantime, Virgin Galactic has shifted its focus to launching small satellites, a growing sector of the commercial spaceflight business thanks to new technological innovations.
Virgin announced that it will launch those satellite-carrying rockets from a Boeing 747-400 that once flew for Branson-founded airline Virgin Atlantic. In a statement, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said the move to the 747 would keep costs down for the company’s satellite launch customers.
“Air launch enables us to provide rapid, responsive service to our satellite customers on a schedule set by their business and operational needs, rather than the constraints of national launch ranges,” said Whitesides. “Selecting the 747 airframe provides a dedicated platform that gives us the capacity to substantially increase our payload to orbit without increasing our prices.”