Startups in the prospering small launch vehicle market recognize that only a few vehicles would survive a possible shakeout, induced more by commercial rather than administration demand. A panel meeting during the Satellite 2019 conference featured three startups that anticipate performing first lift-offs of their small launch vehicles in the next year, all of whom are positive about their own undertakings while expecting a reduction in the number of contesting vehicles in the coming few years. Stephen Eisele—VP of Business Development at Virgin Orbit—stated the company was in the “final” stage in the advancement of its LauncherOne rocket. He said, “We have got one remaining work to button down” with the rocket, plus a few enslaved carry flights of the customized Boeing 747 carrier jet, he said, but did not state a tentative date of their first orbital launch.
Robert Cleave—Chief Revenue Officer at Vector—reported the company was intending a test launch of Vector-R rocket in this summer, with an “important milestone” in the vehicle’s trial scheduled in the coming days. That vehicle would be able to place up to 35 Kilograms in the sun-synchronous orbit, with the huge Vector-H, also under improvement, able to take around 200 Kilograms to the same orbit.
On a similar note, recently, Exolaunch and Virgin Orbit signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding). German launch service provider—Exolaunch—in recent time publicized an MOU with Virgin Orbit to launch satellites in the space by 2020 on LauncherOne committed and rideshare missions. In a statement, Jeanne Medvedeva—Director of Launch Services Commercial at Exolaunch—said, “Exolaunch and Virgin Orbit share core confidence in customer experience and practical launch services. For our small satellite clients mainly from Europe, Virgin Orbit would provide easy and frequent access to a range of orbits.”