Farnborough 2012 was characterised by shower clouds, air displays (the A380 is flying) and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. Courtesy: Flightglobal/David Todd
Despite displays by and order annoucements for Airbus and Boeing aircraft, the Farnborough International Air Show was stolen yesterday. The perpetrator was that master of showmanship Sir Richard Branson. Surrounded by fans, clients and his close family, Sir Richard announced that Virgin Galactic’s new satellite launch vehicle concept would go ahead. In his press conference presentation Sir Richard noted that there was a “new race to space” going on and that it was the right to take advantage of this business opportunity.
The scene-stealing Sir Richard joked that he wanted to overfly the Olympics with his WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combination. Courtesy: Flightglobal/David Todd
The LauncherOne, as the new two-stage expendable rocket is dubbed, is designed to launch satellites into orbit after being air-dropped at 50,000 feet by the current jet powered Virgin Galactic carrier vehicle WhilteKnightTwo. To achieve orbit, both stages of the LauncherOne vehicle will use LOx (liquid Oxygen)/Kerosene rocket propulsion and will be a pressure-fed design. While pressure fed designs are not as powerful as the turbopump-injected equivalents, these rocket engines do have the benefit of being light.