Satellite Of Love: Why Virgin Galactic’s New Private Launcher Is So Swoon-Worthy 

LauncherOne leverages the expertise that Virgin Galactic has been building up with its space tourism business… it uses exactly the same air-launched model for the rocket, with a carrier aircraft lifting the spacecraft high into the atmosphere before dropping it and letting its engines fire it into space. LauncherOne actually employs the same WhiteKnightTwo launch aircraft used for the space tourism flights–which is a proven, existing airframe that instantly reduces costs. 

The upshot of all of this cost-saving is that according to Virgin, a LauncherOne vehicle can put 500 pounds of payload into orbit for “below $10 million.” That works out cheaper than its likely biggest competitor Orbital’s Pegasus XL–another air-launched vehicle–and Virgin intends it to be able to reach the “world’s lowest prices” for launches.

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