Virgin Orbit could launch satellites into space from Australia in 2024, based on its new partnership with Wagner Corporation, owner of Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and Business Park in Queensland, from where operations will be conducted.
Both companies are studying the possibility of certifying the air terminal as a national spaceport and thus be able to perform the first orbital launch within sixteen or eighteen months.
Both companies aim to boost Australia’s promising market for small satellites and other space solutions “to stimulate local economic growth”. Furthermore, according to Virgin Orbit in a press release, enabling the airport for these types of operations would provide the country with more flexible launch capabilities.
Initially, work will focus on optimizing launch operations for LauncherOne, the rocket that was flown from Toowoomba Wellcamp by Virgin Group’s Space Division’s Boeing 747-400. The ultimate goal is to meet the requirements of the Australian regulatory authorities.
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In this way, Virgin Orbit and Wagner Corporation will develop a roadmap to analyze the infrastructure functions needed to achieve airport certification to serve as a departure point for orbital launch flights. If completed, the Toowoomba Wellcamp will become a main center of innovation for the Australian space industry.
Virgin Orbit is the first company to commercially exploit the “airdrop” concept. The company uses a modified Boeing 747-400 to lift the LauncherOne rocket to an altitude of about forty thousand meters. From there, Vector launches and begins its journey into outer space.
aircraft, with registration N744VG and renamed cosmic Girl, is the only one of its kind in the service in the world. It has already completed three commercial launches and successfully put into orbit twenty six satellites for various customers. The company plans to conduct the first orbital launch from the United Kingdom in late 2022.