Make three in a row for Virgin Orbit.
Virgin Orbit’s Launcher: A rocket with 7 small rockets satellite to three different clients today (January 13), marking the third consecutive successful mission for the California-based company.
Cosmic girl, Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 airliner, took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in Southern California today at 4:39 pm EST (2139 GMT; 1:39 pm California local time) with LauncherOne below its wings.
The plane flew southwest for about 70 minutes until it reached its designated crash site, a part of the Pacific Ocean about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of California’s Channel Islands. Cosmic Girl released LauncherOne at 5:52 p.m. EST (2252 GMT), at about 35,000 feet (10,700 meters) and the two-stage rocket in orbit.
All seven payloads have been successfully deployed into their intended orbit, a circular path 310 miles (500 km) from Earth, Virgin Orbit Announcement via Twitter at 6:53 pm EST (2353 GMT).
In the photo: Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket for satellite missions
And we have it, guys! We just heard from Mission Control that NewtonThree has successfully relaunched and deployed all customer spacecraft into their target orbits. Another great day for the Virgin Orbit team and another big step forward for our customers.January 13, 2022
Virgin Orbit plans to carve out a substantial share of the small satellite market with the 70-foot (21 m) Cosmic Girl and LauncherOne, capable of sending 1,100 pounds (500 kg) into orbit during each mission.
Virgin Orbit cites aeronautical launch strategy – a strategy it shares with space tourism outfit Virgin galaxy, also part of billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group – as a key advantage, giving customers more flexibility and response than they can get with a traditional vertical launch rocket.
“We’re always looking for flexibility, because we need to be able to act and be able to deliver technology that not only works, but in a timely manner,” said Colonel Carlos Quiñones, director of the Space Test Program. of the US Army (STP), a customer on duty today, said during the launch of Virgin Orbit’s webcast today.
Deploying the missile from an aircraft allows “that flexibility, because now you’re not specifically tied to a specific point on the ground and the challenges that can come with that,” Quiñones said. more. “So I think we’re excited about seeing where this technology is going and the opportunity [that comes with] that.”
LauncherOne first flew in May 2020 on a non-satellite test flight. That failed mission after the fuel line in the rocket’s first-stage engine broke.
The second flight – another test, taking place in January 2021 – went well: LauncherOne put 10 cubes into orbit for NASA’s Nano Cell Launch Education program. The test phase ended with a successful, third flight loft seven small satellites in June 2021.
Today’s mission, named “Above the Clouds” by Virgin Orbit after a 1998 song by Gang Starr, also carries seven satellites. Four is funded by STP, which does a lot of research and development for Space Force.
“These are the tests they’re flying in, often to test space technology, advanced satellites and communications,” Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said on a pre-launch call with the reporters on Tuesday (January 11).
A Virgin Orbit representative said one of the trials sponsored by STP, called Pathfinder for Autonomous Navigation, will demonstrate cost-effective, automated rendezvous point technology using two tiny cubes.
Another, a cube built by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California called Satellite Education Technology-13, will demonstrate advanced communication and machine learning at the nanoscale. , among other technologies. The fourth payload funded by STP, the Global Star Rating and Risk Mitigation Satellite, is a cubesat test by the US Air Force Research Laboratory that aims to see a prototype patch placed on the outer face of the aircraft. Satellites can collect and transmit information about the ship’s status.
The Polish company SatRevolution provided two of the other three satellites on “In the Clouds.” One of them will join the Earth-observing spacecraft in the constellation of Storks of SatRevolution; the other, called SteamSat-2, will power a water-fueled propulsion developed by British company SteamJet Space Systems during an extraterrestrial test.
Today’s seventh ascending satellite, called Adler-1, belongs to San Francisco-based Spire Global. The 12-inch (30 cm) long spacecraft will study space debris representative of Virgin Orbit said.
SatRevolution and STP are repeat customers of Virgin Orbit: Four STP satellites and two Stork spacecraft flew during the June 2021 mission, called “Tubular Bells: Part One.” (That name comes from another song – the first song from Mike Oldfield’s 1973 album “Tubular Bells”, the first song released by Branson’s Virgin Records. “Moment of Truth”, the Gang Starr album featuring “Above” the Clouds”, also a Virgin release.)
A busy year ahead
“Above the Clouds” kicked off a busy year for Virgin Orbit. The company plans to launch five more missions by 2022, including two from Spaceport Cornwall in the UK. (The other three will take off from Mojave Air and Space Port.)
“The Cornwall launches are targeted around mid-year – summer,” Hart said on Tuesday’s call.
“That’s predictive of a successful licensing pass and some logistics, but that’s what we’re aiming for,” he said. “And [the first Cornwall flight] will be the first debut from UK soil and the first [orbital] Launched from Europe. “
Virgin Orbit is also working to expand its opening operations to other locations. Guam could be in the next row; Hart said the company has laid a substantial foundation for the launch from the Pacific island. Virgin Orbit has also signed deals to launch from Japan and Brazil.
“In addition, we are having discussions and varying levels of activity with a number of other countries including Australia and several European countries, as well as countries in other areas,” Hart said. speak. “So that’s a pretty hot topic for us these days.”
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow them on Twitter @Spacedotcom or above Facebook.
https://www.space.com/virgin-orbit-launches-seven-satellites-january-2022 Virgin Orbit sends 7 satellites into orbit in fourth mid-air launch