- Laurence Russell
Wagner Corporation teams up with Virgin Orbit to bring national air-launch capability to Australia
Virgin Orbit, a leading launch provider, announced today that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Wagner Corporation, one of the region’s most successful privately-owned companies and proprietor of the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and Business Park in Queensland, Australia. The agreement will allow the companies to begin the process of implementing a national launch capability from Australia, with the goal of providing satellite launch services from the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport using Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne System.
In pursuing their joint mission to revolutionize the space industry in Australia, Virgin Orbit and Wagner Corporation are exploring the potential to certify Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport as a national spaceport to perform an orbital launch demonstration as early as 2024. The cooperative effort is designed to catalyze the maturing Australian small satellite and space solutions market, stimulate local economic growth, support commercial and civil endeavours and provide Australian defense and government with a flexible, responsive and flight-proven national launch capability in support of a wide range of mission applications.
Drawing on regional and local expertise from Wagner Corporation and on launch and mission expertise from Virgin Orbit, this collaboration will focus its initial efforts on tailoring LauncherOne operations from Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport to comply with Australian launch licensing regulatory requirements and spaceport-specific operations. Both companies aim to develop a roadmap for how LauncherOne’s Mobile Ground Support Equipment and other infrastructure could be built and staged at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport to provide Australia with a resilient and proven national launch capability, and ultimately transform the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport into Australia’s leading space industry innovation center. The roadmap will seek to lay out the steps required to enable the first flights of LauncherOne to occur from Australia in as soon as 16-18 months.
“At Virgin Orbit, we look to a day soon when satellites fly to space from Australia,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “We’re thrilled to be working alongside Wagner Corporation, one of the region’s most successful privately-owned companies, to bring the first national orbital launch to Australia. Combining their deep knowledge of infrastructure development and affinity for aerospace with our proven, responsive LauncherOne system, we have all the ingredients to bring spaceflight to Queensland.”
Wagner Corporation Chairman John Wagner said, “Virgin Orbit’s selection of Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport for its newest national spaceport, to perform satellite launches, was extremely exciting and a further significant boost for Queensland and Australia. Wellcamp Airport and Business Park is on track to becoming one of the most sustainable carbon-neutral destinations internationally. Virgin Orbit will join Boeing and other international companies as part of Wellcamp’s new world-class, Aerospace and Defence Precinct and Campus, with Stage 1 due for completion by the end of 2024. Attracting global companies such as Virgin Orbit is recognition of the strategic advantages that Wellcamp Airport and the Aerospace and Defence Precinct offers, and we are looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship.”
"Australian space is open for business,” said James Brown, CEO Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA). “We are excited to see a leading global launch company working with Australian industry to develop an agile, responsive solution for space clients."