We are the newest member of the Virgin family, and we are thrilled to be here! Our team is hard at work launching the smallsat revolution. Right now, our engineering-driven team are integrating rockets, filling up our launch manifest, preparing for our initial orbital flights, and yes, finding time here and there to build out a full website. While we get that last one finished up, here’s a bit more about our technology, our mission, and our team.
We are in the final stages of testing and preparation for LauncherOne, a two-stage, expendable, LOX/RP-1 rocket that launches from our mobile air launch pad, a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft, called Cosmic Girl.
Cosmic Girl will carry LauncherOne to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before release for its rocket-powered flight to orbit. Starting each mission with an airplane rather than a traditional groundbased launch pad offers performance benefits in terms of payload capacity, but more importantly, air-launch offers an unparalleled level of flexibility.
LauncherOne will operate from a variety of locations independently of traditional launch ranges—which are often congested with traffic—and will have the ability to operate through or around weather conditions and other impediments that delay traditional launches.
Once released from the carrier aircraft, the LauncherOne rocket fires up its single main stage engine, a 73,500 lbf, LOX/RP-1 rocket engine called the “NewtonThree.” Typically, this engine will fire for approximately three minutes. After stage separation, the single upper stage engine, a 5,000 lbf LOX/RP-1 rocket engine called the “NewtonFour” will carry the satellite(s) into orbit. Typically, the second stage will execute multiple burns totaling nearly six minutes.
At the end of this sequence, LauncherOne will deploy our customers’ satellite (or satellites) into their desired orbit. Both stages of LauncherOne will be safely deorbited, while the carrier aircraft will return to a predetermined airport, where it can be quickly prepared for its next flight.
LauncherOne is capable of delivering 300 kilograms to a 500 kilometer Sun-Synchronous Orbit.
To learn about the vehicle’s capacity to other orbits or other technical stats, check out our Service Guide.
We have built LauncherOne from a blend of classic, proven techniques and tailored high-tech investments. Both the NewtonThree and the NewtonFour are highly reliable liquid rocket engines designed, tested, and built by Virgin Orbit. We are at the forefront of hybrid manufacturing, automated flight safety systems, composite structures, and ultra-responsive launch operations—cutting edge developments that allow us to offer unparalleled service to the small satellite market.
Smallsats are so hot right now
Wherever you live and whatever you do, satellites are already making your life better.
They connect us to our fellow humans, help us understand our home planet, keep us safe, grow the world’s economies, and expand the limits of human knowledge. In recent years, satellites have gotten smaller and cheaper—enabling more people to do more things with more satellites using less money. Already, small satellite operators can point to billions of dollars of venture capital raised, many of the world’s largest fleets of satellites in orbit, and satisfied customers around the world as tangible signs of the power of smallsats.
But even the greatest and cheapest satellites don’t do any good here on the ground—they need to be in space. That’s why we’ve developed a launch solution tailored to the newest, most exciting, and fastest growing part of the satellite market. Like the satellites our customers are flying, our launch system is light, fast, flexible, and affordable.
We are thrilled to bring Virgin’s legendary customer service to the satellite launch industry. From the first phone call through launch day and beyond, we are inspired by our customers and their impressive, purpose-driven missions—and it is our privilege to be a key part of their journeys.
Our idea of a happy life: build rockets, work with brilliant people, serve purposeful customers, and open access to space.
From the very start, we have placed top priority on growing and fostering a team of creative, diverse, and talented women and men.
The Virgin Orbit team includes senior leaders from the development of every rocket currently flying from the United States. We’ve got brilliant minds from other sectors, too, ready and willing to teach us lessons learned by other high tech industries. And of course, we’ve got rising stars, early in their careers, and armed with fresh education, healthy curiosity, and boundless passion.
Does this sound like you? View our careers page here.