In a Bid to Lure Asian Satellite Builders, Virgin Orbit enters launch agreement with Japan

11th Aug 2020
Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit has made significant strides in its space ambitions. The company is expanding its services to the Asian continent by establishing a spaceport at Oita airport.

Virgin Orbit is on course to launch its first rocket from Japan in the year 2022. The company will use a Boeing 747 to launch its rockets which will then deploy satellites into orbit. In addition to the Japanese airfields, the company will also use four other airfields to launch its satellites. These airports including Newquay Airport in UK and Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Virgin Orbit is welcomed with Open Arms

The Japanese authorities allowed Virgin Orbit to use its Oita Spaceport in the hope that the project will encourage Japanese satellite builders. One great advantage of the Japanese spaceport is that it gives Virgin Orbit a competitive advantage in its aim of luring Asian businesses. Katsusada Hirose, Oita’s governor, stated that he is very proud as the airport will be the first horizontal spaceport in Japan. 

Plans are on Full Throttle despite the Pandemic

According to Monica Jan, a senior director at Virgin Orbit, the project is on full throttle despite the coronavirus pandemic. The company is adamant that the spaceport will be ready to start launching satellites in early 2022. There are a few factors that made the company choose Oita airport. Firstly, the airport has a 3000 metre long runway, which is crucial for the large Boeing. Secondly, it’s not located inland, and the satellite launcher can be dropped into the ocean should any mishap occur.

Virgin Orbit could potentially be at the forefront of providing space services to the Asian content, and should everything go according to plan, there is no doubt that the company will achieve its goal. 

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