Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne wins Defense launch contract


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Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne has won a contract to launch a Defense Department payload.

The details are vague, but the deal appears real. The article also suggests that Virgin Orbit is on schedule to complete its first launch next year.

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 the rocket, meanwhile, has been shipped from the company’s factory in Long Beach, California to Mojave for testing, including static fire tests of both stages.

All evidence now suggests that my prediction one year ago that this Virgin company will make its first operational flight before Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, despite being in development only six years, compared to the fourteen years SpaceShipTwo has been under development.

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