Richard Branson headlines Air Force event, pitches Virgin Orbit’s capabilities for national security16 Sep 2019, 19:19 UTC
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Space billionaire Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, on Monday spoke to a large crowd of Air Force officers and enlisted airmen about his spaceflight company Virgin Galactic’s ambitions to make commercial space travel a reality accessible to more people.
He also touted the goals set by Virgin’s satellite launch division, Virgin Orbit, to increase its presence in the national security arena. The company modified a Boeing 747 aircraft to serve as a mobile launch pad. A small launch vehicle called LauncherOne is tucked under the wing of the aircraft and dropped from a high altitude, then it ignites its engine and flies a satellite to orbit.
“We can take off and launch a new satellite within 24 hours,” Branson said at the annual Air Force Association’s Air Space & Cyber symposium during a fireside chat with AFA’s chairman Whiten Peters.
Virgin Orbit in November 2017 received a contract from the Pentagon’s technology outreach organization, the Defense Innovation Unit, to launch an Air Force experimental satellite. Now the company is looking to grow its business with the U.S. military and intelligence community. Branson in recent months has meet with senior officials at the Pentagon and ...