LauncherOne with B747-400 [Virgin Galactic]
LauncherOne [Virgin Galactic]
Virgin Galactic, later spun off as Virgin Orbit, announced in July 2012 the design of its new LauncherOne (L1) air-launched space launch system.
LauncherOne is an expendable, two stage rocket with liquid RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen as propellants . The first stage is powered by the Newton-3 engine. The second stage, featuring the Newton-1 engine, is reignitable for orbit insertion. Payloads will be accommodated within a fairing approximately 1 meter in diameter, with a cylindrical shape for the first 77 cm and a conical section above.
LauncherOne is being developed by The Spaceship Company (TSC) of Mojave. TSC is a partnership of Virgin Galactic and Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. The stages and shroud, including structures, engines, and Launch Vehicle/Pylon Interface, will be manufactured at TSC’s FAITH production facility. Other components, such as avionics and secondary subsystems will be delivered to the production facility by world-class suppliers.
After lift-off with the carrier aircraft, LauncherOne will be released from the airplane at an altitude of approximately 15 km above mean sea level. LauncherOne will free fall for approximately four seconds before the first stage ignites. The two stages operate in sequence, with the potential for the second stage to relight, and the payload is delivered to a designated low-earth orbit.
Originally it was to use the same WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) mother ship as the crewed suborbital SpaceShipTwo. Sometimes in 2014, the concept was scaled up for increased performance, using the larger NewtonThree and NewtonFour engines and a Boeing 747-400 carrier plane called "Cosmic Girl" replacing the smaller WhiteKnightTwo.
A maiden launch is planned for 2017. Initially, LauncherOne missions will be staged from Mojave Spaceport. Virgin Orbit has completed launch assessments the primary launch site of the Mojave Air and Spaceport (MHV) in California and for a variety of operating locations including the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, NASA Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. Virgin Orbit is prepared to obtain approvals to operate in locations other than Mojave based on customer interest. Newquay airport, Cornwall, in the UK is also planned as a launchsite. Guam has been selected as a launch base for low-inclination orbits. Toowoomba in Australia was selected in 2022. Virgin Orbit is also assessing launch operations at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport in Hawaii and the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico.
|Version||Aircraft||Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 3|
|LauncherOne (L1)||Boeing 747-400||Stage 1 / NewtonThree||Stage 2 / NewtonFour||-|
|LauncherOne (3) (L1)||Boeing 747-400||Stage 1 / NewtonThree||Stage 2 / NewtonFour||Stage 3 / ?|
|LauncherOne (3) (L1)||-|
No.TypNo Type Fl.No Date LS Aircraft Payload
1 1 LauncherOne R2 25.05.2020 Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 F Starshine 4 / Intern-Sat 2 2 LauncherOne R3 17.01.2021 Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 CACTUS 1 / ExoCube 2 / MiTEE 1 / PolarCube / Q-PACE / TechEdSat 7 / CAPE 3 / RadFxSat 2 / PICS 1, 2 / Prometheus 2.8 / Prometheus 2.11 3 3 LauncherOne R4 30.06.2021 Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 HALO-Net FF / Gunsmoke-J 4 / CNCE 1 / CNCE 3 / Brik-2 / STORK 4 / STORK 5 4 4 LauncherOne R5 13.01.2022 Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 PAN A / PAN B / GEARRS 3 / TechEdSat 13 / ADLER 1 / STORK 3 / SteamSat 2 5 5 LauncherOne R6 02.07.2022 Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 Recurve / Slingshot 1 / Gunsmoke-L 1 / NACHOS 2 / MISR-B 1 / CTIM-FD / GPX 2 planned launches: x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x Nq RW12/30 B-747-400 Artemis 1 6 6 LauncherOne xx.10.2022 Nq RW12/30 B-747-400 AMBER 1 / Prometheus 2A, 2B / CIRCE 1, 2 / Kernow Sat 1 / ForgeStar 0 / (Omani Sat) x x LauncherOne xx.xx.2023 ? B-747-400 HyperSat 1 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x ? B-747-400 HyperSat 2 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x ? B-747-400 HyperSat 3 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x ? B-747-400 HyperSat 4 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x ? B-747-400 HyperSat 5 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x ? B-747-400 HyperSat 6 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 OneWeb LL1-1, ..., LL1-x x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 OneWeb LL2-1, ..., LL2-x x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 OneWeb LL3-1, ..., LL3-x x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 OneWeb LL4-1, ..., LL4-x x x LauncherOne xx.xx.2023 Nq RW12/30 B-747-400 QKDSat 1 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.202x Nq RW12/30 B-747-400 QKDSat 2 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.2023 ? B-747-400 QPS-SAR 5 x x LauncherOne xx.xx.2022 ? B-747-400 (Spaceflight multiple payloads) x x LauncherOne xx.10.2022 Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 (STP-S28B multiple payloads) x x LauncherOne xx.12.2022 Mo RW12/30 B-747-400 Athena / (STP-S28C multiple payloads) To be co-manifested: Ignis Failures: 1: failed seconds after ignition due to broken stage 1 high-pressure LOX feed line Launch sites: Al = Alcantara Space Center (CLA), Brazil CCK = NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA Gu = Andersen AFB ?, Guam, Guam † Mo = Mojave Air and Space Port, Mojave, California, USA Nq = Spaceport Cornwall, Newquay, Cornwall, England, UK Oit = Oita Airport, Kunisaki, Oita, Japan Too = Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia WI = Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, USA