Journal Staff


VOX Space, a subsidiary of Virgin Orbit, is not letting the virus get in the way of its first launch from Andersen Air Force Base later this year.

Mandy Vaughn, president of VOX, could not release any details for the timeframe of the launch on Guam, but said a date would be announced soon. Vaughn did say the Guam launch is later in the line of launches being made, the first of which will happen in four to six weeks. She also said after the first launch, the VOX team of 11 people will be sending representatives to the island to do research for the launch, and gather information to make the launch on the island as smooth as possible.

“I don’t expect the coronavirus to affect the things we’re doing in Guam, especially because that will be a couple flights in,” she said. “I think at this point we’re good, but it’s a very dynamic situation that we’re taking a look at it very closely.”

As far as price per launch, Vaughn said that changes depending on provider.

The launch from Andersen Air Force Base will utilize a specialized Boeing 747, and launch the Launcher One rocket, similar to the picture.

Photo courtesy of Virgin Orbit and VOX Space

“For a typical launch, with a lot of commercial launch vehicles out there that are currently available, we see a price per kilogram way that people really look at the metrics. Launches are kind of on the mark of $40,000 per kilogram,” she said.

Guam is likely to see representatives from VOX Space before the first half of the year is over, and its place as an ideal launch ground still stands, pandemic or not.

“A couple factors come into it (being a good launch zone) — launching a rocket from an airplane, we like to fly over oceans, and Guam has some of that. (Guam has) the commercial airport, but the real benefit of Guam is because we can easily fly out of the airport and quickly be over open ocean. It’s a relatively short flight to good drop points where we can release the rocket into any orbit.” mbj