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Fri, Jun 29, 2012

Virgin Galactic Back In The Satellite Launch Business

Revives Program To Deploy Satellites From WhiteKnightTwo

A program originally announced by Virgin Galactic in 2009 has been brought back to the table and re-branded as "Virgin Galactic Cargo."

The program has been designed to launch small satellites boosted to orbit on rockets launched from the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. The program had been idle since the engineer in charge of the project abruptly left the company, but now has been revived in part with the help of the DARPA Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, according to a report appearing in Space.com.

Virgin Galactic has reportedly won an 18-month contract to study the feasibility of launching satellites weighing 100 pounds into orbit for under $1 million. The program could eventually see satellites launched weighing up to 440 pounds for about $2 million.

The program is expected to be officially announced July 11th at the Farnborough Air Show in England by none other than Sir Richard Branson himself.

Avionics Intelligence reports that DARPA has also awarded ALASA contracts to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Space Information Laboratories, and Ventions LLC.

FMI: www.virgingalactic.com

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