Washington DC (UPI) Jan 13, 2022 Virgin Orbit kicked off an ambitious launch schedule for 2022 on...
Virgin Orbit kicked off an ambitious launch schedule for 2022 on Thursday by sending seven small satellites into space aboard a rocket launched from a jet high above the Pacific Ocean.
That's about 50 minutes after it took off successfully from Mojave Air and Space Port in Southern California at 1:39 p.m. PST. Virgin Orbit successfully completed launches using the same method twice in 2021.
Company officials said in a press conference Tuesday they hope to launch six missions in 2022, which would position the firm among the most active current space launch companies.
The mission also carries two tiny satellites for Polish company SatRevolution, which was a Virgin Orbit customer on its last launch in June.
Finally, Virginia-based Spire Global, a satellite imaging provider, will launch Adler-1, which was developed in partnership with German and Austrian partners to study space debris in low-Earth orbit.
The rocket will carry the satellites to a unique orbit, launching on a 45-degree inclination from the equator, which has never been attempted from the West Coast, said Tony Gingiss, Virgin Orbit chief operating officer.
Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl can take off from any major airport runway carrying the rocket under its wing, whereas most rockets can only launch from vertical space launchpads.
The company currently seeks licensing to launch from Guam and final approvals to launch from Spaceport Cornwall, Gingiss said.
If the company's plan to launch from Cornwall is successful, that would mark the first ever orbital space launch from England or Europe, Hart said.
The new Virgin Orbit mission is named Above the Clouds, which references Virgin Orbit's former parent company Virgin Group, which still owns a majority stake in the launcher.