Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne has successfully completed its third launch, the company announced.
Seven satellites were deployed in their planned orbit on January 13, 2021, after being air-launched from the Cosmic Girl, the company’s heavily modified Boeing 747.
“Our customers are starting to hear back from their satellites that are checking in from orbit — and for us, that’s what success looks like. It’s a thrill for our team that this mission included our first repeat customers as well as our first ‘last minute ticket’ customers and reached an orbit that no one had ever reached from the West Coast before,” Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said in a press release.
According to the company, Cosmic Girl took off from Mojave Air and Space Port at 1:39 PM PST (18:39 GMT), headed for the launch site, which is located approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) south from the Channel Islands, and released the rocket. The procedure went smoothly, and the rocket’s payload reached the orbit as expected.
The majority of the launched satellites carry scientific instruments and include experiments in communications, navigation, propulsion and space debris detection. Additionally, one satellite will serve the agricultural sector.
Virgin Orbit says that with this latest launch, the total of satellites deployed by the LauncherOne has reached 26.
The system’s first launch was conducted in May 2020, and ended in a failure. But in January 2021, its second launch resulted in the successful deployment of a set of cubesats for NASA.
The first successful launch of a commercial payload VAH</a>)-Orbit-launches-the-first-commercial-payload-to-space”>was conducted in July 2021.
LauncherOne is a two-stage air-launched rocket, capable of deploying up to 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) to Low Earth Orbit. It is designed to be launched from under the wing of a modified Boeing 747, carrying it to the altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet).