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Germany’s ExoLaunch And Virgin Orbit Sign Agreement To Launch Small Satellites From Launcher One

An artist’s rendering of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747 space launch carrier airplane. Image courtesy of Virgin Orbit.

EXOLAUNCH, a leading Germany-based launch services provider and cluster integrator for small satellites, and Virgin Orbit, a California-based launch vehicle provider for small satellites, have announced the signing of an MOU for transporting EXOLAUNCH customers’ payloads on dedicated and rideshare missions with Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne as early as 2020.

“Virgin Orbit and EXOLAUNCH share a core belief in customer experience and viable launch services” said Jeanne Medvedeva, Launch Services Commercial Director at EXOLAUNCH. “For our small satellite customers predominantly from Europe, Virgin Orbit will provide frequent and easy access to space out of the U.S. to reach a wide range of orbits, and we will provide diverse smallsat clusters adapted through our separation systems to the upcoming missions of LauncherOne.”

Founder Sir Richard Branson created Virgin Orbit to be the world’s premier small satellite launch service, providing dedicated launches to any low Earth orbit at any inclination. Utilizing an air-launch approach from a 747 carrier aircraft, Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne is the world’s most flexible launch service and can carry payloads up to 500 kg. LauncherOne’s frequent launch cadence will provide EXOLAUNCH customers with regular flight opportunities and schedule flexibility. EXOLAUNCH’s global clientele will not only receive the agility that a small launch vehicle affords, but also benefit from Virgin Orbit’s elevated customer experience.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart had this to say about the working relationship. “Virgin Orbit and EXOLAUNCH are naturally aligned in our ambitions to launch the global small satellite revolution, which necessitates low-cost, high-frequency access to space. Europe is on the cutting edge of science and technology when it comes to small satellites, and we’re very motivated to provide our unique launch capabilities to this rapidly growing market.”

Jeanne Medvedeva, Launch Services Commercial Director at EXOLAUNCH; Credits: LinkedIn

EXOLAUNCH, whose current customers include a wide range of the European and North American newspace startups, universities, scientific institutions and space agencies, has a long and successful flight heritage in arranging CubeSat and micro-satellite launches. Focusing specifically on small satellite launch services, cluster technical integration, and mission management since the dawn of the New Space era has made them preferred experts in the industry and in 2019 alone they are contracted to deliver more than 60 small satellites into orbit.

Virgin Orbit provides dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. Virgin Orbit is developing LauncherOne, a flexible launch service for commercial and government-built satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and will be air-launched from a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft capable of operating from many locations in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Virgin Orbit has now tested every component and system of the LauncherOne platform in the run up to the company’s first orbital launch, expected soon.

EXOLAUNCH is a leading European launch services provider and cluster integrator offering easy, cost-effective and regular access to space for small satellites. Their proven flight heritage includes the successful organization and launch execution of 55+ multinational small satellites to sun-synchronous orbits. Focusing on the individual needs of each customer, their optimal solutions have enabled the visions of some of the world’s most ambitious start-ups, universities, space agencies and scientific institutions. In addition to launch services, they design and manufacture in-house 12U/16U CubeSats and low-shock separation systems for micro-satellites.

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