Business, Space, Technology and Society Virgin Orbit February 2, 2023 Rand Simberg 4 Comments …might be on its last legs.
4 thoughts on “Virgin Orbit”
It has been treated as a hobby rather than a business.
Branson is a hobbyist.
Bezos is a con man.
Musk is a visonairy space entrepreneur
And NASA is a RICO suit waiting to happen
Branson has been hosed twice in the space launch game, buying technical solutions that just aren’t economical (or safe). Air launch from an airplane is a dead-ass loser – just ask the Pegasus people. But Pegasus took a technical path that was at least more compatible with air launch than Virgin Orbit’s approach – a solid propellant system is much easier to operate off of an airplane, and at the small vehicle size we’re talking about, the fact that solid propellant costs 50 times more than liquids is irrelevant. Towing a launch vehicle behind an airplane is much more economically sound, if you do it right. I offered that to Branson in the 1990s, and never received a reply.
I would have had that Virgin Orbit 747 in service doing zero G flights for the public at $400 a ticket, so that it wasn’t just sitting in the hangar absorbing money, and it was giving people who could never afford a VG suborbital flight the experience of zero gravity. Having flown on the NASA KC-135, I can tell you that $400 is a bargain for something that is the most fun you can ever have. I was willing to pay NASA the $5,000 an hour it cost to fly the 135 just to do it again for myself. But they wouldn’t stoop to providing “joy rides.” Using the tow aircraft to provide zero G rides was part of my initial business plan for my company. Somehow it got lost in the miasma of expectations…
“Towing a launch vehicle behind an airplane is much more economically sound, if you do it right. I offered that to Branson in the 1990s, and never received a reply.”
It seems if you pull it, you could push it.
Solids seem like a bad idea.
Why not buy a raptor two engine Vac and use liquid methane.
Use two stages, use parachute to recover the first stage.
Think of Mothership as replacing a launch site, which is less limited to weather and one can launch from any latitude- or launch from equator.
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