Society | Jul 20

Virgin sets up Japan spaceport to lure Asian satellite builders

Asia's first spaceport, located at Oita Airport on the Japanese island of Kyushu, is readying support for Virgin Orbit as the company looks to fire off its LauncherOne rocket in 2022.

Virgin Orbit -- a space venture of the Virgin Group -- will use a modified Boeing 747, christened "Cosmic Girl," as the launch platform for LauncherOne, which carries small commercial satellites into either a sun-synchronous or low-Earth orbit, depending on customer requirements.

In addition to its prime Oita location, the U.S.-based company has chosen four airports in the U.S. and Europe for launching satellites, including Mojave Air and Space Port in California and the U.K.'s Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

The Oita prefectural government welcomed Virgin Orbit's decision to use its airport in hopes of nurturing a local space industry, using the spaceport project as a catalyst.

The envisioned Oita Spaceport will also give Virgin Orbit an edge as it tries to attract Asian customers, owing to the airport's regional proximity. It will also boost Japan's aerospace industry.

"We are eager to host the first horizontal takeoff and landing spaceport in Japan," Oita Gov. Katsusada Hirose said in a statement. "We are also honored to be able to collaborate with brave technology companies solving global-level through their small satellites. We hope to foster a cluster of space industries in our prefecture, starting with our collaboration with Virgin Orbit."

On May 25, the company conducted the first test launch of its satellite delivery capabilities off the coast of California. Although the test was quickly aborted, it succeeded in igniting LauncherOne's engine after release from the airborne Boeing 747.


MORE Society NEWS

The Imperial Household Agency has announced that Princess Kako, the second daughter of the Akishino family, is scheduled to visit Greece in late May to promote international goodwill.

The Taiji Town Whale Museum in Wakayama Prefecture conducted a memorial service on Tuesday for marine mammals and fish that have died in captivity.

A startling projection has been unveiled, suggesting that if current trends continue, every Japanese person might eventually be named 'Sato'.

POPULAR NEWS

Four men have been arrested by Tokyo police for allegedly recruiting women for prostitution in the United States via a website, promising encounters with affluent clients and high earnings.

For the first time in 73 years, Japan has unveiled a newly constructed whaling mother ship, equipped with drone technology for whaling operations in the Antarctic Sea.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Nara Prefecture has disciplined its former Youth Division Chief following a controversial dance party incident.

Residents of Japan's oldest student dormitory, self-managed for over 100 years, are digging in as Kyoto University attempts to evict them from the premises.

A Japan Airlines flight en route from Melbourne to Narita Airport encountered sudden severe turbulence on April 1, causing injuries to several cabin crew, including a broken leg.

FOLLOW US