Virgin Orbit has achieved another milestone, successfully launching its first nighttime satellite placement into low-Earth orbit. 

In 2020, the US Space Force allocated a $35 million contract to Virgin Orbit for three missions to deliver payloads for the Space Test Program. The military refers to the Virgin Orbit’s initial test flight as failed, but in January 2021, the corporation used LauncherOne to enter orbit. And now, the United States Space Force will use this expedition as one of Virgin’s first of the three missions to expand its global coverage, New Atlas reports. 


After years of development and test flights, Virgin Orbit finally started operations last June. They are using a modified 747 to launch satellites, flying off from regular airport runways and deploying a LauncherOne rocket from a great height. The payload is subsequently carried to orbit by this rocket after firing its engines. 

Two pilots and three launch engineers made up the flying crew piloted the modified 747 jumbo jets transporting the rocket into space. The jet preceded the mission’s southeast direction across the Pacific Ocean west of San Diego as it soared off the coast of Southern California.

Virgin Orbit said that the company is “honored” to provide support and services at this crucial time for the country’s defense.

“We are honored to be supporting and delivering for the US Space Force and the US Department of Defense at such a critical juncture for national security space, our nation, and our world,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart.

“An incredibly talented Virgin Orbit team and our LauncherOne system continue to demonstrate a track record of success for our spacecraft customers, and that was confirmed again today,” he added.

Cosmic Girl Virgin Orbit 747. (Source: Tmedia1, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

New Atlas reported that the Virgin Orbit has recently performed four straight missions as a byproduct of the launch. The first-night operation occurs as the firm strives to emphasize further its strategy’s adaptability and responsiveness for launching satellites. This focus incorporates the power to launch from any location in the world.