Virgin Orbit to Send Small Vehicles to Mars

Virgin Orbit, a subsidiary of Virgin Galactic, one of SpaceX's competitors, plans to send small spacecraft to Mars after 2022. The company has partnered with several universities and a satellite manufacturer to make this plan a reality.

Virgin Orbit has big plans to send small spacecraft to Mars with 2022. The company announced today that it has partnered with several Polish universities and a Polish satellite manufacturer, SatRevolution, to design three robotic missions for the Red Planet in the next decade.

If successful, these missions will be the first commercial visits to Mars. Four organizations have been able to reach Mars successfully so far, all of which were government-sponsored space organizations. Commercial companies like SpaceX are eager to reach the Red Planet, but we can say that so far Mars has been dominated by state-sponsored agencies.

Small Spacecraft

Virgin Orbit

In this new idea, the Virgin Orbit team was inspired by NASA's InSight mission to Mars in November 2018. When the InSight vehicle was launched, two smaller spacecraft, also known as CubeSats, were located next to them, and they followed the road all the way to Mars. For the first time with CubeStats, vehicles of such small size have surpassed Earth's image and moved into deep space. These two satellites performed their duties just as requested and sent InSight signals to Earth. Thus, small and cost-effective satellites have been shown to be very useful in deep space missions.

Virgin Orbit, LauncherOne called the future rocket weighing up to 50 kg (or light) vehicles have found a way to send into deep space, he said. While Virgin Orbit's work is often designed to send small and medium-sized satellites to Earth's low orbit, Will Pomerantz, the company's vice president of special projects, says it's possible to take it further. Pomerantz also said that they think they will perform missions to the Moon, Mars, Mars satellites, Venus and even several asteroids in the asteroid belt.

Under the agreement, SatRevoluiton will build future deep space satellites, and universities will form mission concepts. This consortium of universities and companies suggested possible tasks such as taking photos of Mars and its satellites, working on the atmosphere of the Red Planet, and even searching for water.


Unlike many rockets, LauncherOne will not be launched from the ground. Instead, it was designed to take off under the wing of an airplane. Virgin Orbit has a Boeing 747, which they call the Cosmic Girl, and the mission is to shoot the rocket into the sky and then let go. While in the air, the rocket's engines will fire and move into Earth's orbit. Pomerantz said there are many ways to accomplish deep space missions, and the company has not yet gone into detail.

LauncherOne hasn't made its first flight yet, although these are dreams with very high targets. After several tests with the Virgin Orbit team, Cosmic Girl and the rocket, the target got a little closer. Pomerant stated that their goal is to fly the rocket before the end of this year, which is normally expected to be achieved in the summer.


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Pomerantz, “This is a light for people's dreams of making small rockets, satellites, vehicles. People, including myself, thought it was impossible a few years ago, and now they are about to achieve their goal. People become even more creative with these achievements gör said.