UPDATE: Virgin Orbit has confirmed that the second stage fired as planned for the second time and that the payloads were deployed into the planned orbit.
Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne reached orbit for the first time on Sunday with 10 CubeSats aboard, marking a major milestone for Richard Branson’s air launch operation.
The modified Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port and flew out over the Pacific Ocean where it dropped the booster. Virgin Orbit tweeted that the NewtonThree and NewtonFour engines on the first and second stages fired as planned to reach orbit.
The rocket is now coasting in orbit. The NewtonFour engine will ignite a second time to circularize the orbit before the 10 CubeSats are released. The CubeSats are aboard as part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program.
NASA provided funding for the launch under its Venture Class Launch Services program, which is designed to help fund new small satellite launch vehicles.
The upcoming holiday weekend (Martin Luther King Day on Monday) will see NASA conduct the long awaited Green Run hot fire of its Space Launch System rocket core and orbital launches by Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and SpaceX involving 71 satellites.
Saturday, January 16
Launch Vehicle: Rocket Lab Electron Mission Name: “Another One Leaves the Crust” Payload: OHB Group micro communications satellites Launch Time: 2:41 EST (0741 UTC) Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com (begins 15 minutes prior to launch)
UPDATE: Launch scrubbed as engineers examine sensor data. They have a 10-day launch window.
Hot Fire: Space Launch System Core Test Window: 5-7 p.m. EST (2200–0000 UTC) Test Site: Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. Webcast:www.nasa.gov (begins at 4:20 p.m. EST/2120 UTC) Post-test Briefing: Approximately two hours after test completion on NASA website
Sunday, January 17
Launch Vehicle: Virgin Orbit LauncherOne/Cosmic Girl Mission Name: NASA ELaNa-20 mission Payloads: 10 CubeSats Launch Window: 1:00-5:00 p.m. EST (1800-2200 UMT) Launch Sites: Mojave Air and Space Port, California (Cosmic Girl Boeing 747), Pacific Ocean (LauncherOne)
Monday, January 18
Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon 9 Mission Name: Starlink V1.0-L16 Payloads: 60 Starlink broadband satellites Launch Time: 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 UTC) Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Webcast:www.spacex.com (begins 15 minutes before launch)
Virgin Orbit has delayed the flight test of its LauncherOne booster originally scheduled for Wednesday until Sunday, Jan. 17. Operations are expected to take place between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PST (1800-2200 UTC). Your local time may vary; please adjust accordingly.
Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl will take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. It will release LauncherOne over the Pacific Ocean west of San Nicolas Island. The rocket’s first stage will fire once the booster is clear of the aircraft.
LauncherOne’s second flight test will carry 10 CubeSats for NASA under the space agency’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program. NASA also funded the launch under its Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) program.
LauncherOne’s first flight test failed on May 25, 2020. The first stage fired for about four seconds, but then quit due to a break in a propellant line.
This second flight test is seen as crucial for Virgin Orbit, which is attempting to raise an additional $200 million in investment. Founder Richard Branson has said the company has already raised $1 billion in its effort to reach orbit.
MOJAVE, Calif. — Ten NASA-sponsored CubeSats are preparing to fly on the agency’s next Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission, making this the first payload carried by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket.
With the small satellites safely secured inside the payload fairing, and the fairing mated to the rocket, Virgin Orbit is gearing up for ELaNa 20, the Launch Demo 2 flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
Virgin Orbit has postponed the second flight of its LauncherOne booster scheduled for Dec. 19 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced on Saturday.
“Our latest round of contact tracing Friday evening led to a new batch of precautionary quarantines,” Virgin Orbit tweeted. “Consequently, we’ve fallen below the number of staff we feel we require to prudently and safely proceed with pre-launch operations….
Rocket Lab has announced that it will conduct its 12th Electron launch with five satellites aboard from New Zealand on June 11 between 04:43 – 06:32 UTC (12:43 – 02:32 a.m. EDT).
The launch, titled Don’t Stop Me Now, will be the first by the company since late January. Rocket Lab suspended launch operations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions placed on activities by the New Zealand government. The launch was delayed from March.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Today the Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP) CubeSat made history by becoming the 100th CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) selected mission deployed into space. This mission marks nearly 12 years of the CSLI providing CubeSat developers rideshare opportunities to space via Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions.
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — On Saturday, seven small research satellites, or CubeSats, developed by students from eight universities across the nation were launched on Saturday on a Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops, Virginia.