Virgin Orbit to Launch Again in June

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Orbit is planning its third launch of small satellites for sometime in June. The Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 will take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California and drop the LauncherOne booster over the Pacific Ocean.

The rocket will carry six satellites, including three from the U.S. Department of Defense, two from Poland-based SatRevolution, and one from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Full details of the payloads are below.

It will be the first launch in five months since LauncherOne orbited 10 payloads for NASA in January. The booster failed on its maiden flight on May 25, 2020.

For the first time, Virgin Orbit provide a public livestream of a launch on its website.

The mission is named Tubular Bells, Part 1, after an instrumental by Mike Oldfield that Richard Branson recorded. You can learn more about that on the Virgin Orbit website.

Details of the mission and its payloads taken from the Virgin Orbit’s announcement are below.

PAYLOADS

» The U.S. Department of Defense, which is launching three CubeSat sets as part of the DoD Space Test Program’s (STP) Rapid Agile Launch (RALI) Initiative. This launch, also known as STP-VP27A, was awarded to Virgin Orbit subsidiary VOX Space by the DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), an organization working to accelerate the adoption of commercial technology into the U.S. military to strengthen national security.  

» The Royal Netherlands Air Force, which is launching the Netherlands’ first military satellite, a CubeSat called BRIK II, built and integrated by Innovative Solutions in Space, with contributions from the University of Oslo, the Delft University of Technology, and Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre.

» SatRevolution, which is launching the first two optical satellites, STORK-4 and STORK-5 (A.K.A. MARTA), of the company’s 14-satellite STORK constellation.

LAUNCH SITE

As with our previous mission, we will conduct the mission from what is currently a bare concrete pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

TARGET ORBIT

500 km, circular orbit at 60 degrees inclination

LAUNCH TIMING

June 2021

LAUNCH COVERAGE

 A public livestream of the mission will be available on our website. You can also get real-time updates via social media: just follow us on Twitter @VirginOrbit.