Virgin Orbit picks Wellcamp Airport in Queensland to launch rockets within two years

A regional Queensland airport is set to become the third Virgin Orbit site in the world to send off satellites into space within the next two years.

Wagner Corporation, which possesses the Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reported they had signed an agreement to certify the airport as a national spaceport to launch rockets into space from Boeing 747 airplanes by 2024.

Wagner Corporation chairman John Wagner, who possesses the Wellcamp Airport, told ABC Radio Brisbane the project was “very exciting” and fitted in with the procedure for developing the Wellcamp aerospace defence region.

“I’d have to say the state government have been very proactive with this, they’ve been a great help to bring ourselves and Virgin together to make this a reality,” he said.

“It further cements our position around the world … this is a global development as an aerospace defence precinct.”

Mr Wagner said it would be a game changer for the entire aerospace industry in Queensland.

“We’re very excited to be part of it,” he said.

Time for testing

Mr Wagner said the organizations were going for the test launch to occur in 18 months.

He expressed the next step was to guarantee that every one of the approvals and regulations were set up to permit the rockets and satellites to be gathered at Wellcamp, joined to airplane and launched from over the Pacific Ocean at around 35,000 feet.

“Virgin are very professional, they’ve got two other space bases, one in the Mojave Desert and one in Cornwall in the UK, so they certainly know what they’re doing and are very successful in this market,” he said.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said the organization was excited to be working close by the Wagner Company to carry 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,” he said.