Space Launch Vehicle
The system will enable controlling and navigating multiple small satellites in a synchronous orbit above the equator, more here https://orbitaltoday.com/
. The company's primary mission assignment is to support customer applications in military and scientific satellite programs. They are currently testing a two-way communication system using the Space Based Infrared Remote Controlled Satellite (SIRCC) from NASA. This will enable one-way communications between operational vehicles and experimental cosmic dust models.
When I wrote an article entitled "Rocket Dog", I suggested that the concept of Virgin Orbit could be the basis for a new service utilizing space forces to provide small satellite services. Several people have since suggested the same thing to me. Many proponents of Virgin Orbit have also promoted a similar concept. In November, 2021, George Carpenter, Space Force Association member stated that; "we should make sure we're not just talking about sending up something that goes up and doesn't come back. We need to get into a position to capture something down, bring it back, and then do something with it."
Virgin Orbit and NASA
Many industry experts have expressed support for this concept, including Jim Cantori who is a former NASA astronaut. Mr. Cantori stated, "I think we have to take the next step, and we're actually going to have a launch vehicle that can do this, whether we use strap-on reusable launch vehicles or vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. There's going to have to be some way to catch this thing on a timescale and bring it back down again, which is what an astronaut does when they go to the moon." Mr. Cantori went on to say that; "orbital re-entry is really needed if you are ever going to use these vehicles in future space."
Some insiders believe that such a system could indeed be tested within a year. A propulsion demonstration scheme would be designed using an electric motor powered by electricity, and a laser guided by laser beam or microwaves, as predicted by George Carpenter. The scheme could then be tested by NASA, perhaps around the time of the nextgov budget review. If the test went well, then Virgin Orbit could begin their one-way mission from NASA. As mentioned earlier, I believe we may see a test flight of a reusable launch vehicle around the end of this calendar year.
It is highly likely that we will hear some news regarding Virgin Orbit's plans during next Sundays leading up to Christmas. Will they be ready to fly by the end of this year? Time will tell, but I am willing to bet money that we will get a confirmation on either or both of these plans during next press conference. And if not, then Virgin Orbit will be forced to scramble and find a suitable launch vehicle. Please consider all this.