Virgin Orbit successfully installed all seven customer satellites aboard its LauncherOne rocket in orbit during its most recent mission.
The Above The Clouds mission was Virgin Orbit’s third successful flight, less than a year after its first mission, and continues the company’s successful track record of providing satellites to public and commercial customers.
The responsive launch and space solution company’s 747 aircraft Cosmic Girl took off from Mojave Air and Space Port and flew to a launch site across the Pacific Ocean, about 50 miles south of the Channel Islands. After a steady release from the plane, the LauncherOne rocket ignited and propelled itself toward space, eventually exposing its payload in a precise target orbit about 500 km above the earth’s surface with a 45 degree inclination. This was the first time anyone has reached this trajectory from the west coast.
Virgin Orbit has now successfully delivered commercial, state, international and national security satellites to space, including the new Above the Clouds customer Spire Global, Inc. and the first repeat customers ever: the US Department of Defense Space Test Program and the Polish company SatRevolution.
Launched on the company’s latest mission, the satellites include experiments in space-based communications, space debris detection and space navigation and propulsion, as well as satellites that will serve the global agricultural sector. The launch brings the total number of satellites launched by Virgin Orbit to 26.
“Our customers are starting to hear back from their satellites checking in from orbit – and for us that’s what success looks like. It’s exciting for our team that this mission included our first returning customers as well as our first ‘last’. minute ticket ‘customers and reached a trajectory that no one had ever reached from the west coast before, all of which confirms the team’s ability to deliver top-tier launch service anywhere, anytime, ”said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart.
“On top of that, we flew through the air and a cloud layer that would have due to every other launch I have worked on in my career, something only made possible by the air launch and our incredible team. We can confidently say that in this new era of regular, frequent, successful missions, we can help our customers and partners use space technology to advance human knowledge and open space for the good. “
“What an unforgettable experience to see the Virgin Orbit team complete another perfect mission to space. I could not be more proud of the work they do. I radiate with them,” said Virgin Orbit founder Richard Branson. “We supported experimentally. , important work for our three happy customers today. I congratulate them and our wonderful team. “
Due to the unique air-launch system developed by Virgin Orbit, the Above the Clouds mission was launched into a circuit never before directly accessible from the west coast of America. Instead of launching from a fixed pad on the ground, Virgin Orbit performs its launches from under the wing of a modified 747 aircraft, and by flying the aircraft further out to sea, the company was able to launch on an orbit without land launch rocket could have achieved. The direct injection into the target orbit saved the satellites aboard this mission for months and kilograms of fuel that they could otherwise have used to align their orbits based on what a landlocked launch site could provide them.
The Above the Clouds mission was named after the fifth track on Gang Starr’s 1998 album Moment of Truth, featuring the Inspectah Deck of the Wu-Tang Clan. The album was released by Virgin Records in collaboration with Noo Trybe Records and is widely regarded as one of the greatest hip hop albums ever.
The latest Virgin Orbit milestone came a few days after the company brought a 70-foot rocket to Times Square to mark the announcement as #VORB at Nasdaq HQ in New York. Go over to Virgin Orbit to find out more.