Asteroid miners to hitch a ride with Virgin Galactic
The new union is a sign that the nascent commercial space-flight market could soon turn out to be self-sustaining. It was prompted by LauncherOne, a low-cost satellite-launching rocket that Virgin founder Richard Branson revealed on 11 July at the Farnborough International Airshow, UK.
Virgin Galactic, headquartered in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is best identified for its plans to ferry paying tourists to the edge of space. The concept is to take the tourist-carrying SpaceShipTwo rocket to an altitude of 7 kilometres employing aircraft WhiteKnightTwo. SpaceShipTwo will then be dropped so it can fire its engine and climb to an altitude of 100 kilometres – providing passengers a 5 minute spell in microgravity and an out-of-this-world view. An air launch means the rocket itself does not have to push through the densest part of the atmosphere, making the launch incredibly fuel efficient.
The notion behind LauncherOne is to use the same process to launch satellites. From 2016, Virgin plans to sling LauncherOne beneath WhiteKnightTwo in spot of SpaceShipTwo for satellite launches.
Branson says little satellites with masses up to 225 kilograms will be in a position to reach orbit for about $10 million – "two to 5 times much less" than a typical satellite launch expenses.
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Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:07 am You might like: Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:23 pm " by Switchtrip Farnborough Airshow: Branson's Virgin Galactic 'spaceship' in UK debut Sir Richard Branson says 529 people have put down deposits to travel into space with Virgin Galactic as the company unveiled its aircraft in the UK for the first time.
( via newscientist.com )
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