Virgin Orbit Selected to Bring Orbital Launch Capabilities to Brazil

Virgin Orbit Selected to Bring Orbital Launch Capabilities to Brazil

Press release from: Virgin orbit
Posted: Wednesday April 28 2021

The Brazilian Space Agency (Agência Espacial Brasileira; AEB) and the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira, FAB) announced today that Virgin Orbit has been selected to bring orbital launch capability to Brazil, a country that has never achieved a domestic launch into orbit. Thanks to the unique mobility and small footprint of Virgin Orbit’s air-launch system architecture, launches to a wide range of orbital tilts could quickly become possible without the need for new permanent infrastructure or expansion. existing facilities.

The launches would take place from the Alcântara launch center (Centro de Lançamento de Alcântara, CLA) on the north coast of Brazil, located just two degrees south of the equator. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system, which uses a custom 747 aircraft as a flying launch pad and a fully reusable first stage, could perform launches from the existing airbase at the site, traveling hundreds of miles before releasing the rocket. directly above the equator or at other optimized locations. for each individual assignment. The approach allows Alcântara to become one of the only continental space ports in the world capable of reaching any orbital inclination.

Since construction of the facility began in 1982, Alcântara has hosted dozens of unmanned suborbital sounding rocket launches – but the facility has not yet been used to reach orbit. By bringing this much-needed capacity to Alcântara, Virgin Orbit, AEB and FAB will create significant new capacity for the region while respecting the site’s promised economic value for the local population. quilombo communities. All of the equipment Virgin Orbit needs to perform an orbit launch is fully transportable, from the ground vehicles that prepare the rocket for flight to the rocket and the aircraft itself – meaning the team can transport safely the whole system, perform a launch. and return to one of the company’s other facilities without requiring any additional construction beyond the airbase.

LauncherOne’s first flight since installation would turn Alcântara into the second orbital-class spaceport in all of South America, and only the fifth in the entire southern hemisphere.

Since the start of his mandate, AEB President Carlos Moura has declared that making the Alcântara launch center a benchmark for space activities in Brazil and around the world is at the center of the priorities of the Brazilian space program. “Alcântara is one of the most ideal places in the world to launch rockets. It is close to the equator, which increases the payload capacity of the launcher, and allows a wide range of azimuths for launches, with access to all orbits. When we put the Center into operation, we will overcome a historic challenge for the program, which means a commitment to Brazil and the world community towards ever greater achievements for humanity, ”he said.

“The people of Brazil have been working patiently and diligently on the orbital launch for many years now, and it will be a tremendous honor to help make this vision a national reality,” said Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit. “The space launch will bring key capability to the nation and the space community, while helping to meet the long-standing needs of the local community. There really is no better place on the planet than Alcântara for an equatorial launch site. And with hundreds of miles of transverse range on our flying launch pad, the potential is limitless. We look forward to working with our colleagues at AEB and FAB to bring this new vital capacity to Alcântara. “


Virgin orbit: [email protected] (or reply to this email)


Virgin Orbit builds and operates the most flexible and responsive satellite launcher ever invented: LauncherOne, a dedicated launch service for small commercial and government-built satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are launched by air from our modified 747-400 carrier aircraft, allowing us to operate from locations all over the world in order to better meet the needs of each client. To learn more or to apply to join the talented and growing Virgin Orbit team, visit

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