Virgin Orbit’s first operational mission is a success
Virgin orbit‘s LauncherOne was definitely ready to soar into space again – and society Tubular bells: part one mission was successfully launched from Cosmic girl.
At 9:50 a.m. PST on Cosmic girl carrier plane – a modified Boeing 747 – took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California with the 70 feet long LauncherOne rocket securely attached to the underside of the left wing of the jet.
LauncherOne’s drop point was 50 miles south of the Channel Islands in the Pacific Ocean and this action ended auspiciously at an altitude of about 300,000 feet. The rocket can handle payloads of around 1,100 pounds and send them into their orbits. Three additional test flights are planned.
There are three customer payloads for this mission of delivering seven small satellites – the US Department of Defense (DoD), SatRevolution and the Royal Dutch Air Force. All of them entrusted LauncherOne with putting their small satellite into orbit and demonstrated the unique benefits of air launch to make space more accessible to customers from all corners of the map.
The payload of the Royal Netherlands Air Force is a defense satellite, the first spacecraft of its kind for this country. In addition, two small EO satellites for SatRevolution were included in this mission, with the hope that more small satellites will be put into orbit, as the company intends to build a constellation of 14 small satellites. The DoD Quick launch initiative placed a cubesat with Virgin Orbit for launch as a demonstration to measure the flexibility of small satellites and the ability to launch small satellites when a short period of time is required for the delivery of sensitive space technologies to orbit.
The company’s readiness review is complete and its LauncherOne launch window is set for June 30 from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. PDT, and on Tubular bells: part one the mission is currently GO for the launch.
Pre-launch ground operations are well advanced at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Earlier this week, Virgin Orbit mated the payload fairing to the rocket (the entire time it was attached to Cosmic girlthe wing of), using one of the company’s custom trailers, which is a process that will be replicated to support responsive launch campaigns at locations around the world – Cornwall, UK; Guam, United States; and Oita, Japan, to name a few.
Virgin Orbit also announced its agreement with SatRevolution to expand the strategic partnership and launch its “constellation of constellations. “In addition to these future dedicated and carpooling launches, Virgin Orbit and SatRevolution will also seek new opportunities for collaboration, such as the development of integrated mission services and other activities aimed at cultivating the growing Polish space industry.
Watch the action in real time by tapping into this mission’s livestream, available through YouYoube. Similar to Start demo 2, the company will also share mission milestone updates on Twitter (@VirginOrbit).
See you tomorrow for Tubular bells: part one!