Space access gets more economical with Air launcher And the Virgin Orbit is the first one to use this. The spinoff of Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit, has scheduled its LauncherOne Mission in 2018.
Dan Hart President and CEO of Virgin Orbit explains, “We will fly it up to 35000 feet and release the rocket a few seconds later, the aircraft will clear the area and rocket will autonomously ignite and take the satellite to the orbit. The plane will then come back to the airport and it is completely portable launch systems”.
The LauncherOne Mission will take off on Air-Launcher. The launcher has been given an interesting name: ‘Cosmic Girl’. Converted Aircraft Boeing 747 will be used for the purpose. LauncherOne is designed to launch small satellites. It can carry maximum payloads of 200 kilograms.
But how Air-Launch System will work?
Starting each mission with an airplane offers performance benefits in terms of payload capacity, but more importantly, Air-launch offers an unparalleled level of flexibility.
However, the concept is not new. “There are couples of other systems, like Stader launch which is much larger aircraft and is applying a much similar kind of launch concept and there is Pegisous system as well” says Dan Hart. Paul Allen of Microsoft has also designed same concept. It is s called Stratolauncher. Stratolauncher can carry weight up to 6000 Kilograms