- Parabolic Arc
- November 29, 2023
Virgin Orbit, ANA Holdings Sign MOU for 20 Launches From Japanese Airport
ANA HOLDINGS, owner of ANA ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS (ANA), which has been awarded SKYTRAX’s respected 5-Star Rating every year since 2013, establishes a new space business as an exclusive distributor of Asia’s first air-launch service.
LONG BEACH, Calif., November 04 , 2021 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA), today announced that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) with ANA HOLDINGS INC., the owners of Japan’s largest airline, to procure twenty flights of the LauncherOne rocket and to lead the effort to provide funds and support for those orbital missions to launch from Japan’s Oita Prefecture. The terms of the MOU call for ANA HOLDINGS and several of its partners to fund the manufacturing of a new set of the mobile ground support equipment used to prepare Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system for flight from a pre-existing runway, with a target of making Oita a LauncherOne-ready spaceport by as soon as the end of 2022, pending appropriate regulatory approvals in the United States and Japan.
Japan’s impressive aerospace industry has long been at the forefront of satellite technology innovation. However, the available launch services in Japan – and throughout all of Asia – have always been launched from fixed sites on the ground. Supported by ANA’s premier logistics and transport services, Virgin Orbit is set to change that by bringing air-launch to the Eastern Hemisphere for the first time in history.
By using a customized 747 as its flying launch pad, mobile mission control, and fully re-usable first stage, LauncherOne gains a substantial performance boost over a similarly sized ground-launched system. Additionally, the airplane’s ability to cover large distances between taking off and releasing the rocket provides both weather resiliency and direct-inject orbital flexibility that until now, has never been available on the Asian market.
Virgin Orbit’s flight-proven air-launch service provides a unique capability for ANA’s customer base in the booming commercial ecosystem for space in Asia. The number of space start-ups in Japan has more than doubled since 2015, driven by increasing level of investment and government activities to energize and accelerate the private sector. The increasing amount of funding and investment in the space industry has encouraged start-ups to venture into space businesses, and legacy companies to expand their offerings – and launch is a critical enabler for those businesses and their future growth.
Koji Shibata, ANA Group Representative Director and Executive Vice President, noted, “ANA is excited to work with Virgin Orbit to offer responsive launch and space solutions services to customers in Japan. Demand for satellite launches in Japan and Asia is rapidly increasing, and it is hoped that the number of launches will be desired from the customers. Virgin Orbit offers something no other launch company can, and that capability will be extremely valuable to the growing space industry in Japan and throughout the region.”
“ANA is a world-class company with an incredible legacy of aerospace innovation, commercial success, and customer satisfaction that makes them an absolutely ideal partner to bring air-launch to Asia,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “We are elated to be partnering with such a talented and honored firm to move space launch forward and serve the rapidly growing need for launch. We look forward to collaborating with ANA to foster the ongoing transformation of the space economy.”
About Virgin Orbit
Virgin Orbit operates one of the most flexible and responsive space launch systems ever built. Founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021, and has already delivered commercial, civil, national security, and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747- 400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs. On August 22, 2021, Virgin Orbit entered into a definitive agreement to combine with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”, NASDAQ: NGCA), a special purpose acquisition company, which would result in Virgin Orbit becoming a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol VORB. To learn more, visit virginorbit.com.
NextGen Acquisition Corp. II is a blank check company whose business purpose is to effect a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, share purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses. NextGen is led by George Mattson, a former Partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Gregory Summe, former Chairman and CEO of Perkin Elmer and Vice Chairman of the Carlyle Group. NextGen is listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “NGCA.” For more information, please visit www.nextgenacq.com.
About ANA HOLDINGS INC.
Founded in 1952 with just two helicopters, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has grown to become the largest airline in Japan. ANA HOLDINGS Inc. (ANA HD) was established in 2013 as the largest airline group holding company in Japan, comprising 71 companies including ANA and Peach Aviation, the leading LCC in Japan.
ANA is a launch customer and the largest operator of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, making ANA HD the biggest Dreamliner owner in the world. A member of Star Alliance since 1999, ANA has joint venture agreements with United Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines – giving it a truly global presence.
The airline’s legacy of superior service has helped it earn SKYTRAX’s respected 5-Star rating every year since 2013, with ANA being the only Japanese airline to win this prestigious designation for nine consecutive years. ANA also has been recognized by Air Transport World as “Airline of the Year” three times (2007, 2013 and 2018); it is one of only a select few airlines to win this prominent award multiple times.
ANA is the only company in the aviation industry to receive the Gold Class distinction from the 2021 S&P Global Sustainability Awards and ANA HD has been selected as a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index list for the fourth consecutive year and the Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific Index list for the fifth consecutive year.
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