Virgin Orbit Its fourth ever space mission will launch today (January 13), and you can watch the event live.
The flight, named “Above the Clouds” after the 1998 song by Jang Star, is scheduled to take off from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port today between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST (2100 to 2330 GMT). The mission will deliver seven small Satellites It revolves around three different clients.
You can watch the launch live here at Space.com, Courtesy of Virgin Orbit, or directly through the company.
Pictures: Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket for satellite missions
Virgin Orbit uses an aerial launch strategy: a modified Boeing 747 known as the Cosmic Girl takes off from a runway and reaches an altitude of about 35,000 feet (10,700 meters) above a designated landing zone before the company’s 70-foot (21 m) launch, the two-stage LauncherOne missile.
The rocket is likely to launch about an hour after Cosmic Girl takes off today, Virgin Orbit representatives said on a pre-launch call with reporters Tuesday (January 11).
“Above the Clouds” will be the fourth mission of Virgin Orbit, part of British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin group of companies. (This group also includes the Aerospace Tourism Company Virgo Galaxy.) The first was a May 2020 test flight that did not carry any satellites, but failed when the fuel line in the launcherOne’s first stage engine broke.
The company succeeded on its second test flight in January 2021, a mission that put 10 cubes into orbit for NASA’s Education Launch Program for Nanosatellites. The third flight, a commercial mission that Launched in June 2021This also succeeded in raising seven satellites into Earth’s orbit.
Four of the spacecraft were provided for the June flight by the US Army’s Space Testing Program (STP), and two of the Stork Earth observation satellites belong to Poland’s SatRevolution.
Both of these enterprises are frequent customers: four STP payloads fly on “Above the Clouds”, and SatRevolution has two satellites on board – the Stork spacecraft and SteamSat-2, which will test hydro-propellant thrusters developed by the English company SteamJet Space Systems. The seventh satellite on board today’s flight is Spire Global’s Adler-1, which will study space debris The environment in low Earth orbit.
Today’s mission is the first of six that Virgin Orbit aims to launch in 2022. If all goes according to plan, two of these upcoming missions will take off from Spaceport Cornwall in England, making the company’s international launches for the first time.
“This is just going to be a remarkable year for us,” said Tony Gingis, chief operating officer of Virgin Orbit, during the press call on Tuesday.
Mike Wall is the author of “AbroadBook (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed. Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed or on Facebook social networking site.
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