Virgin Galactic has revealed further partners who will be involved in the development of the new Delta class spaceships.
Bell Textron and Qarbon Aerospace will manufacture key subassemblies for new spacecraft which are designed to fly weekly with six passengers per ship. Production is slated to begin in 2023.
Bell, a subsidiary of Textron Inc. with more than 85 years of manufacturing experience in the aviation industry, will supply the unique feathering system and flight control surfaces. Qarbon Aerospace, known for its expertise in constructing large, complex composite parts for aerospace and aviation, will produce the fuselage and wing
Virgin Galactic will continue to be responsible for the overall system architecture, design authority for all components, and the final assembly, integration, checkout, and acceptance testing of the vehicles.
“The Delta class spaceships are an evolution of our distinctive flight system, designed for improved manufacturability, maintenance and flight rate capability,” said Michael Colglazier, CEO Virgin Galactic. “Bell and Qarbon Aerospace are established partners who bring know-how, ideas and resources that will enable us to produce up to six new Delta Class ships per year.
“Together with Aurora Flight Sciences, who is producing our next-gen motherships, we now have the primary suppliers in place to propel the production of our spaceline fleet at scale,” Colglazier said.
The new spaceships will be assembled at Virgin Galactic’s new facility in Arizona. The first Delta class spaceships are expected to commence revenue-generating payload flights in late 2025, progressing to private astronaut flights in 2026.
Further, Virgin Galactic inked an agreement with Axiom Space, a US-based commercial space company, to support a microgravity research and training mission.
The Virgin Galactic spaceflight, tentatively scheduled for next year, will prepare an Axiom Space astronaut for an upcoming trip to orbit, while conducting microgravity research to supplement the work they will do on the International Space Station.
Virgin Galactic has a deep commitment to providing opportunities for research and scientific exploration in a suborbital space environment. The Company has flown research experiments on all previous spaceflights and is reserving 10 percent of its first 1,000 seats for science and technology research missions.
Virgin Galactic Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations, Sirisha Bandla said “We are excited to work with Axiom Space as we continue to expand the ecosystem for microgravity research and build a pipeline for Virgin Galactic missions to support orbital space travel. Our commitment to research deepens our connection to planet Earth, enabling humanity to broaden our understanding of Earth and our place on it.”
Axiom Space is the commercial space industry’s only full-service orbital mission provider to the International Space Station, conducting full-service, end-to-end crewed missions for private astronauts, including both private individuals and those representing foreign governments. Axiom Space has several partnerships with sovereign nations to expand their space capabilities including Turkey, Italy, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates.