Virgin Galactic’s original business plan was for space tourism: suborbital flights to give people an experience of weightlessness aboard SpaceShipTwo. In 2012, the company announced plans for LauncherOne, with a goal of placing 200-300 kg in sun-synchronous orbit for under $10m per mission. LauncherOne is carried to high altitude aboard an aircraft (originally White Knight Two, now a Boeing 747 nicknamed Cosmic Girl) and air-launched from there, similar to the Pegasus system of Orbital ATK. In 2015 the company established an R&D and manufacturing center for LauncherOne in Long Beach, California and it expects to begin test flights in 2017 of an improved launcher with 400 kg capacity. The manufacturing facility has a capacity to produce 20-30 rockets per year with a goal to conduct three missions per month. Virgin Galactic has won a 39-satellite contract from OneWeb, Venture Class Launch Services contract from NASA, and a letter of intent from Millennium Space Systems. It is targeting 2018 for the start of commercial services.
Virgin Galactic was named one of the 2017 Rising Five in the Launch Sector.
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