Science

Seven satellites have been successfully launched into orbit by Virgin Orbit

On Thursday, a Virgin Orbit rocket launched from a plane flying off the coast of California delivered seven small satellites into space, kicking off a year in which the business expects to increase the number of launches, including two from the United Kingdom.

The modified Boeing 747 of Virgin Orbit took off from Mojave Air & Space Port in Southern California, flew out over the Pacific Ocean, and dropped the LauncherOne rocket from its left wing.

At an altitude of nearly 35,000 feet (10,668 meters), the 70-foot (21.3-meter) booster ignited and hurtled skyward. All of the satellites were properly placed into the right orbit, according to the corporation.

The business started, "Another amazing day for the Virgin Orbit team, and a significant step forward for our customers."

Satellites for the US Defense Department, the Polish business SatRevolution, and the multinational company Spire Global were among the payload.

It was Virgin Orbit's third satellite launch for clients. In January and June of 2021, two prior missions placed numerous satellites into orbit. In May 2020, the company's maiden launch, a demonstration flight, failed.

Last month, Virgin Orbit, which was created in 2017 by British billionaire Richard Branson, became public. The company is aiming for the small satellite launch industry. It promotes the mobility of its air-launch technology as an advantage over fixed launch locations.

"The fantastic thing about using a 747 is that we can put them into an orbit from anywhere in the world," Branson said during the company's launch webcast from the British Virgin Islands.

"Only a few handfuls of countries in the globe have the capability of putting satellites into orbit from their own countries," he said, adding that "today 480 countries may use Virgin Orbit." "All you have to do now is give us a call."

This year, the business anticipates six launches, including two for the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom, both of which will be launched from Cornwall in southwestern England. On Thursday, RAF test pilot Mathew "Stanny" Stannard piloted the 747 from the primary pilot seat.

In a preflight briefing this week, Chief Operating Officer Tony Gingiss remarked, "This is going to be a fantastic year for us."

According to Gingiss, flight-over-flight has been steadily improving.

"I believe we're seeing not only the level of rigor we anticipate but also a high level of confidence in our procedures," he said.

The mission on Thursday was titled "Above the Clouds," after a single from Gang Starr's 1998 album "Moment of Truth," which was issued by Virgin Records.

During his interview, Branson mentioned that his family received COVID-19 for Christmas.

"Thankfully, we were all vaccinated and boosted, so none of us caught it seriously," he explained.

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