Virgin Orbit’s Next Mission ‘Above The Clouds’ Enters Launch Prep – SatNews

Coming off flawless back-to-back launches, the Virgin Orbit team has settled into a steady flight preparation rhythm with LauncherOne. The fully assembled rocket that will carry our next customers’ satellites to space left our rocket factory in Long Beach and headed up to the bare concrete pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port that serves as all the spaceport we need. Already, the rocket has been mated to the customized 747 that serves as our flying launch pad, mobile mission control and fully re-usable first stage all at once.

With our pre-launch preparation now officially underway, we’re delighted to tell you more about our next mission, which is on track to launch later this year. On the heels of our flawless Tubular Bells, Part One mission in June, which sounded our new era of routine commercial flights to orbit, we’re happy some of our Tubular Bells customers have now become our first repeat clients. We’re working with some old friends, but headed to some new places.

We invite you to turn your attention skyward, to a mission we have dubbed Above the Clouds.

Mission Manifest:

The U.S. Department of Defense, which is launching several Research and Development (R&D) satellites from multiple government agencies that are experiments in space-based communications and in-space navigation, as well as a university payload sponsored by NASA. This launch, also known as STP-27VPB, was awarded to Virgin Orbit’s subsidiary VOX Space by the DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) as part of the DoD Space Test Program’s (STP) Rapid Agile Launch (RALI) Initiative. DIU is an organization working to accelerate the adoption of commercial technology into the U.S. military to strengthen national security.

Polish company SatRevolution, which is launching two smallsats: STORK-3 and SteamSat-2. STORK-3 join the STORK-4 and STORK-5 Marta satellites placed in orbit on our June 2021 mission as part of the SatRevolution’s EO capabilities, with a focus on serving customers in the agricultural sector to take medium-resolution photos. SteamSat-2 is a technology demonstrated for SteamJet Space System (UK)’s innovative water-fueled thrusters for in-space propulsion.

Launch Site: Our fully mobile LauncherOne system will conduct the flight from what is currently a bare concrete pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California

Target Orbit: mid-inclination Low Earth Orbit

Launch Timing: Q4 2021

Launch Coverage: Real time updates to be provided via social media and a public livestream

Mission Name: Above the Clouds