Virgin Orbit readies ‘straight up’ launch mission
June 27, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Virgin Orbit has been rehearsing its launch plans and on June 29th there is a window open to place its client’s satellite into orbit under Virgin’s ‘straight up’ plan.
The launch calls for Virgin Orbit to place the US Space Force’s STP-S28A mission and carry payloads for the Department of Defense (DOD) Space Test Programme (STP).
The target orbit for Straight Up is approximately 500 km above the Earth’s surface at a 45-degree inclination. Virgin Orbit is the first company to achieve this feat from California through its Above the Clouds launch which was completed earlier this year.
Tyler Grinnell, VP/Test, Flight and Launch for Virgin Orbit, said that everything is going according to plan and remains on schedule in preparation for the company’s fourth mission.
“Our hardware is in top-notch condition, and the team is performing exceptionally, as we prepare for our first night-time launch,” Grinnell commented. “The perspective we’ve gained from each previous launch is really paying off now. Our crews in the sky and on the ground are ready to further our mission of getting our customers’ satellites precisely where they need to go.”
Founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021, and has already delivered commercial, civil, national security, and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747-400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs.
This week’s launch is a precursor to another scheduled launch from the UK later this year.