Richard Branson's space-faring effort is getting bigger with the addition of another company. According to a report in TechCrunch, the billionaire's satellite-launch company Virgin Orbit has quietly created a venture dubbed VOX Space to focus on launches for government and its allies.
The website of the new space venture notes that it "provides the national security community of the USA and allied nations with responsive, dedicated, and affordable launch services for small satellites bound for Low Earth Orbit".
In a statement sent to Gizmodo, Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit revealed how dedicated the space-launch giant is towards government missions.
"At Virgin Orbit, we want to be responsive to the space launch goals of our government and the need to make more use of commercial services to further expand America's leadership in space".
People familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that Virgin Orbit doesn't expect government and defence contracts to be its main source of revenue, but the venture dedicated to government missions would help the company compete with the likes of SpaceX and Orbital ATK.
VOX Space will use Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne – the air-launched rocket – to take government and defense satellites into orbit.
Hart's statement added, "Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne system is so appealing to our customers because of its extreme flexibility, reliability, and affordability—and these traits are just as important to government customers as they are to any of our commercial customers".
In total, Richard Branson now has four companies dedicated to different areas of space. Virgin Galactic for space tourism, its spin-off Virgin Orbit for Cargo flights, VOX Space for government missions, and The Spaceship Company for craft manufacturing.
The development comes a week after Virgin Group got a major investment of $1bn (£0.77bn) from the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.