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.