Virgin Orbit Signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan’s airline ANA

19th Nov 2021
Virgin Orbit Signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan’s airline ANA

On 4th November, Virgin Orbit announced entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA). According to the agreement, ANA should procure twenty flights for Virgin’s LauncherOne air-launch system, leading the effort to provide funds and support for launching orbital missions from Japan’s Oita Prefecture. This includes building a relevant ground system and preparing the airport runway for LauncherOne once the regulatory issues are settled.

Japan’s Benefits from LauncherOne System

Virgin Orbit Launcher One.
Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket.

Japan has long been at the forefront of satellite technology but has traditionally launched spacecraft from fixed sites. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system presupposes a horizontal launch from any cargo airport that has a suitable runway. This ensures higher launch flexibility and shorter preparation time. Virgin Orbit uses a customised Boeing 747 plane to launch the rocket into the air and release it at an altitude of 35,000 feet.

ANA’s supreme logistics and Virgin Orbit’s proven flight capabilities will open up new satellite launch opportunities from the Eastern hemisphere. Given that the number of space startups in Japan has doubled since 2015, the companies will soon be looking for cost-effective means to launch spacecraft into required orbits. This makes Virgin Orbit, with its flexible launch technology, a perfect choice of a launch operator.

Virgin Orbit & ANA on Entering MoU

According to ANA Vice President Koji Shibata, the company is excited to work with Virgin as it gives ANA the opportunity to offer Japanese customers flexible and responsive launch solutions. Shibata adds that the demand for satellite launches is growing, which is why Virgin and its unique experience will be extremely valuable for the Japanese space sector.

Virgin Orbit CEO, Dan Hart, shares Shibata’s enthusiasm, adding that their team is dedicated to innovation in the aerospace sector and fostering the transformation of the space economy. This makes Virgin Orbit and ANA ideal partners for future launches.

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