Published on Jul 24, 2012
12 July 2012
Virgin Galactic at a Glance
Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline.
Virgin Galactic is revolutionizing access to outer space. We will provide affordable, and safe launch opportunities for astronauts and research payloads with our suborbital space flight system, and are now developing a new vehicle to carry small satellites into orbit. Thanks to their innovative design and their low prices, these vehicles will dramatically increase the frequency of space flight: our manned suborbital space business aims to fly more people to space in our first two years of operations then have ever been to space through all of history, while our suborbital vehicle will open up the space frontier to innovators of all sorts, from start-ups and schools to established space companies and national space agencies.
Suborbital Tourism Experience:
On SpaceShipTwo, our customers will become official astronauts. Six passengers per flight will experience the unique thrills of spaceflight, enjoying the opportunity to leave their seats to float in zero-gravity for several minutes, and looking out through one of our twelve large windows to take in astounding views both of outer space and of the Earth below, stretching approximately 1,000 miles in every direction. Prior to the flight, passengers will go through three days of preparation, medical checks, and bonding with their flight crew, all of which is included in the price of the flight.
Suborbital Research/Education Experience:
SpaceShipTwo can also be configured to carry research payloads by replacing astronauts' seats with mounting racks that can accommodate the leading payload container systems. Each flight can carry as much as 1300 pounds (600 kilograms) of payload into space, offering an unparalleled opportunity to conduct high-quality, affordable experiments. Many researchers are looking at SpaceShipTwo as an invaluable stepping stone on their way to orbital systems, while others are conducting unique research custom-designed for suborbital flight. NASA is already a customer, having chartered flights on SpaceShipTwo through their Flight Opportunities Program.
Small Satellite Launch:
Virgin Galactic will provide launch services for small satellites to low Earth orbit (LEO) with the LauncherOne vehicle. Traditionally, small satellites have been launched as secondary payloads which constrains the satellite provider's choice of launch characteristics. LauncherOne will allow small satellite providers greater flexibility in selecting launch dates, locations, and orbits that are optimized for their mission goals.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and aabar Investments PJS
The 2004 Ansari X Prize called for private sector innovations in the field of manned space exploration. Specifically, participants had to design and manufacture a privately funded vehicle that could deliver the weight of three people (including one actual person) to suborbital space (altitude of 100 kms). The vehicle had to be 80 percent reusable and fly twice within a two-week period.
Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a Paul G. Allen company, and Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites pursued the X Prize with Rutan's SpaceShipOne, an air-launched all composite rocket ship. The Virgin Group sponsored SpaceShipOne's X Prize flights. In October 2004, SpaceShipOne with pilot Brian Binnie won the X Prize. SpaceShipOne is now proudly displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.
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