Euronews is no longer accessible on Internet Explorer. This browser is not updated by Microsoft and does not support the last technical evolutions. We encourage you to use another browser, such as Edge, Safari, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.



Richard Branson takes satellite launch business to Japan with airline ANA

Richard Branson takes satellite launch business to Japan with airline ANA
FILE PHOTO: The rudder of the first A380 for All Nippon Airways (ANA) is seen before its delivery ceremony at the Airbus delivery center in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau -
Regis Duvignau(Reuters)
Text size Aa Aa

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit said on Thursday it plans to bring its satellite launch system to Japan in partnership with airline operator ANA Holdings Inc, which will provide maintenance and possibly aircraft.

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system is undergoing testing with the aim of launching rockets bearing small satellites into space from a modified jumbo jet. The company said it will conduct its first orbital test flight later this year.

Branson’s space ventures, however, have a history of delays, with his space tourism company Virgin Galactic running more than a decade behind the schedule originally promised by the British billionaire.

Virgin Orbit and ANA Holdings, parent of All Nippon Airways (ANA), in a joint statement said they will identify a launch site together with Space Port Japan, an industry-backed body which aims to turn Japan into a space business hub.

The space venture has already announced launch sites in the United States, Guam, Britain and Italy.

Japan’s space industry spans large scale government-backed rocket launches by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd – which launched the Michibiki satellite navigation system – to Interstellar Technologies, a startup backed by internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie that last month launched its first rocket to reach space.

(This story corrects spelling of Horie’s given name in the sixth paragraph.)

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

euronews provides breaking news articles from reuters as a service to its readers, but does not edit the articles it publishes. Articles appear on for a limited time.