August 27, 2021 — Virgin Orbit, the California-based responsive launch company, announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a new collaboration with the Southwest Research Institute, an independent, nonprofit research and development organization. Under the terms of the agreement, Virgin Orbit and SwRI will explore multiple specialized mission opportunities using the LauncherOne system coupled with SwRI’s deep expertise in space mission development. Additionally, the two organizations will explore potential opportunities for joint manufacturing of SwRI’s space platforms and delivery of space services to Virgin Orbit’s customers.
Virgin Orbit is interested in developing collaborations to offer its government, civil and commercial customers turnkey bundled services, such as satellite platforms, mission management and downstream value-added services and applications. Virgin Orbit and SwRI are particularly interested in collaborating on stewardship programs that would leverage space data to inform critical decisions around weather and for environmental monitoring purposes.
As part of the agreement, Virgin Orbit will assess the possibility of manufacturing SwRI space vehicle platforms at the company’s manufacturing hub in Long Beach, California. Virgin Orbit and SwRI will also evaluate opportunities to jointly develop and launch missions to space, including the deployment of satellite constellations, to provide comprehensive space service offerings to customers.