A conceptual rendering of the corporate’s provider plane, also called a “mothership.”
House tourism firm Virgin Galactic on Wednesday introduced a take care of Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to construct two extra provider plane to assist its coming spacecraft fleet.
Virgin Galactic presently has one provider plane, or “mothership,” referred to as VMS Eve that’s about 14 years outdated and is present process a prolonged refurbishment. The jet-powered mothership performs a key position in Virgin Galactic’s flights by carrying the corporate’s spacecraft as much as about 50,000 toes altitude to launch.
The corporate mentioned the brand new motherships are an evolution of the VMS Eve design and can every assist as much as 200 launches a yr. Virgin Galactic presently has two spacecraft in its fleet, VSS Unity and VSS Think about, and says the previous can launch 12 instances a yr and the latter 26 instances a yr. However the firm’s coming “Delta class” of spacecraft would fly as usually as as soon as per week, necessitating a number of motherships to assist launches.
“Our subsequent technology motherships are integral to scaling our operations. They are going to be quicker to supply, simpler to take care of and can enable us to fly considerably extra missions annually,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier mentioned in a press release.
A Virgin Galactic spokesperson declined to reveal the deal’s monetary phrases. Aurora started designing the motherships with Virgin Galactic early this yr and can begin manufacturing instantly. The primary provider plane is anticipated to enter service in 2025.
Like that of different development-stage house firms, Virgin Galactic’s inventory has been hit onerous in 2022, with its shares down greater than 50% yr to this point. Earlier this yr Virgin Galactic delayed the start of its industrial house tourism to the primary quarter of 2023, with the corporate’s refurbishment program anticipated to be completed in about two months.
Provider plane VMS Eve is seen within the background shortly after releasing VSS Unity, which is firing its engine and acclerating through the firm’s fourth spaceflight check, Unity 22, carrying founder Richard Branson on July 11, 2021.