The next satellite launch of Virgin Orbit will take place from the UK, following the success of the “Straight Up” mission, which began today in Mozave, California.
Science Minister George Freeman and the UK Space Agency have welcomed the news that Virgin Orbit has successfully completed its fourth mission from California and its first night launch.
With the completion of this mission, Virgin Orbit is on its way to launch from Spaceport Cornwall later this year. With the UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council assisting in the launch, Spaceport Cornwall is set to create 150 jobs in the local area.
Science Minister George Freeman said: “Congratulations to Virgin Orbit on another successful U.S. mission that demonstrates the ability of an innovative launch platform to put satellites into orbit day or night. Incredible.
“We are in a strong position to capitalize on the growing global demand for small satellite launches and to keep space and our planet sustainable for future generations.”
Matthew Archer, director of commercial spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, who joined the Virgin Orbit team for the launch from Mozambique Air and Space Port, said: Working and standing next to our partners to witness another successful launch for the team is a matter of specialty.
“The UK is home to some of the world’s leading satellite manufacturers, who are currently shipping their products abroad for launch. We support spaceport and launch operators by providing services across the UK and building a new domestic launch market by catalyzing investment from around the world. ”
Today’s Virgin Orbit mission has launched seven satellites on behalf of the U.S. Space Force that will test space-based communications, space navigation and climate change.
Several national and international satellites have also been confirmed for the first UK launch later this year, with customers including Space Forge, Satellite Application Catapult and Horizon Technologies, MOD, DSTL and the US National Reconnaissance Office and the Sultanate of Oman.
Unlike many rockets, Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One flies horizontally, carried by a modified Boeing 747 aircraft called Cosmic Girl.
This was Virgin Orbit’s fourth commercial flight. After launching from Mozave Air and Space Port in California, the company launched its first satellite into space in January 2021.
Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: “The success of this latest launch in California has been very fruitful for Spaceport Cornwall and the UK space sector. It was amazing to see both the Virgin Orbit team and our team working together to reflect U.S. activities in real-time – to make sure we were mission-ready for the summer. It gave us a taste of what was going to happen in front of us and our team could not be more excited. “
The UK government’s National Space Strategy determines how the UK will become the first country in Europe to launch a satellite into orbit in 2022. Spaceport Cornwall is one of seven potential spaceport sites across the UK that will help cement the UK’s role as a science superpower. And help bring a wave of innovation across the country.
The name of the launch, “Straight Up”, is inspired by the song by American singer Paula Abdul with that title, from her album Forever Your Girl.