In the Pursuit of Manufacturing Excellence

Meeting the needs of the quickly growing small satellite world requires not just a proven rocket design but also the capability to build lots of rockets — quickly, flexibly, and affordably. Here at Virgin Orbit, we’ve placed equal importance on both of those requirements, and have invested in solving them in parallel, rather than in series. We made the decision early on to invest heavily in our Long Beach manufacturing HQ, with the goal of ensuring that the tools, machines and resources available to our team were as cutting-edge as the product we wanted to bring to life: LauncherOne.

In order to develop the best manufacturing facility in aerospace, we have partnered with the best manufacturing company in any industry.  Over the last several years, we’ve developed a unique relationship with DMG Mori, the world’s premier supplier of manufacturing machine tools. DMG Mori’s top-of-the-line hardware — their 5-axis CNC machines, mills, lathes, and more — form the backbone of our machine shop, pumping out our first iterations of development and (soon thereafter) flight-ready hardware.

But beyond having top-of-the-line, proven tools for traditional manufacturing, what makes our relationship with DMG Mori truly special is we are working so closely with them to drive the future of advanced manufacturing. Combining their unmatched expertise and experience base with our engineering creativity and with the rigorous demands that come from making a commercial rocket, we’ve got a powerful partnership that’s driving capabilities that don’t exist anywhere else.

As the video above explains, DMG Mori’s hybrid machines — which combine all the advantages of subtractive and additive (or 3D printing) manufacturing — unlock so many possibilities in terms of how we approach the design and build of any one rocket part. Leveraging this flexibility, we focused our energies on simplifying the hardest, most expensive, and most labor-intensive parts to build.

We’re honored to have procured the first ever machine in each of DMG Mori’s two most recent generations of advanced manufacturing equipment. These aren’t future ideas or proofs-of-concept: these are real machines, already in our factory, already producing real hardware.

Now, as we work to accelerate our production cadence and push the boundaries of modern manufacturing even further, DMG Mori is helping to illuminate the path forward.