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LauncherOne Small Launch Vehicle Propulsion Advancement

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Project Introduction

LauncherOne Small Launch Vehicle Propulsion Advancement

Virgin Orbit, LLC (“Virgin Orbit”) is currently well into the development for our LauncherOne (L1) small satellite launch vehicle. LauncherOne is a dedicated small satellite launch system manufactured and planned for launch in the U.S. that is designed to deliver approximately 300-500 kg of payload to Low Earth Orbit. L1 is a highly vertically integrated rocket system with major subsystems (liquid propulsion systems, tanks, and avionics) designed, developed, and manufactured in-house by Virgin Orbit at our Long Beach and Mojave, California facilities. We see beneficial technical alignment between the core capabilities of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Glenn Research Center and our LauncherOne development needs and risk areas. These areas can be divided into the following two categories, both of which advance the development of small satellite launch.

Specifically, we will address the need for the development and commercialization of a small launch system in the areas of:
(1) Additive Thrust Chambers and Nozzles – Integration of MSFC and GRC materials expertise with Virgin Orbit equipment and engineering for the next generation of thrust chambers and nozzles. Outcome of this work could potentially be deployed on existing Virgin Orbit manufacturing machines and be quickly commercialized.
(2) Multi-Core Crossfed Launch Vehicle Systems– MSFC has expertise on crossfed launch vehicle systems that Virgin Orbit will apply to small launch vehicles. Utilizing multiple cores would enable the launch of small payloads to higher orbits and expand the commercial small launch vehicle market space.

Through these efforts, NASA and Virgin Orbit will be able to design effective next-gen propulsion systems and enable future recommendations for the design and optimization of these systems to be used in launch vehicles resulting in better performing and more affordable systems for commercial and government customers, including NASA.

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