Monday, February 02, 2009

MicroSpace News: British smallsat launcher plan

SSTL and Virgin Galactic - two firms with expertise and money (especially since SSTL became a subsidiary of EADS Astrium) - have proposed the U.K. get back into the satellite-launching business. England has long lacked its own satellite launcher, having canceled the Black Arrow program in 1971. The new idea would be a microsatellite launcher from Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two, the spaceplane carrier aircraft which, as things stand now, will have a lot of useless downtime between space passenger flights. Numbers being kicked around as objectives include a payload of up to 200kg and a dirt-cheap cost of $1M per flight.
COMMENT: I'll be shocked if they can do it for $1M, but there's nothing irrational about the idea. SSTL having access to its own launcher, flying its payloads on its (and its clients') preferred schedules, is a logical notion. Good luck, lads!

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