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Branson’s Virgin Orbit launches 9 satellites

January 18, 2021

By Chris Forrester

Virgin Orbit has launched its first batch of small satellites on its Virgin Orbit converted jumbo jet (named ‘Cosmic Girl’).

The launch took place from Virgin’s Mojave Desert location on January 17th at 18.50 GMT (1.50pm ET)

The Virgin Orbit aircraft carried a 21 metre rocket (‘LauncherOne’) under its port (left) wing and deployed 10 small cube-sats from 35,000 ft. The satellites mostly came from university groups.

“Payloads successfully deployed into our target orbit! We are so, so proud to say that LauncherOne has now completed its first mission to space, carrying 9 CubeSat missions into Low Earth Orbit for our friends,” said a Tweet following the mission.

These were small satellites but the system is capable of carrying satellites up to 500 kgs and its business is targeting the new clusters of Low Earth Orbiting operators.

“With this successful demonstration in the books, Virgin Orbit will officially transition into commercial service for its next mission. Virgin Orbit has subsequent launches booked by customers ranging from the US Space Force and the UK’s Royal Air Force to commercial customers like Swarm Technologies, Italy’s SITAEL and Denmark’s GomSpace,” Virgin Orbit representatives said.

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