Virgin Orbit will launch its fourth-ever space mission at this time (Jan. 13), and you may watch the motion stay.
The flight, named “Above the Clouds” after a 1998 tune by Gang Starr, is scheduled to carry off from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port at this time between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST (2100 to 2330 GMT). The mission will ship seven small satellites to orbit for 3 totally different clients.
Virgin Orbit employs an air-launch technique: A modified Boeing 747 jet generally known as Cosmic Girl takes off from a runway and reaches an altitude of about 35,000 ft (10,700 meters) above a delegated drop zone earlier than releasing the corporate’s 70-foot-long (21 m), two-stage LauncherOne rocket.
Rocket launch will doubtless come about an hour after Cosmic Girl takes off at this time, Virgin Orbit representatives mentioned in a prelaunch name with reporters on Tuesday (Jan. 11).
“Above the Clouds” would be the fourth mission for Virgin Orbit, which is a part of English billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group of firms. (That group additionally contains the space tourism firm Virgin Galactic.) The first, a May 2020 check flight that carried no satellites, failed when a gasoline line ruptured in LauncherOne’s first-stage engine.
The firm aced its second check flight in January 2021, a mission that put 10 cubesats into orbit for NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program. The third flight, a business mission that launched in June 2021, succeeded as effectively, lofting seven satellites into Earth orbit.
Four of the spacecraft on the June flight have been offered by the U.S. navy’s Space Test Program (STP), and two have been Stork Earth-observation satellites belonging to the Polish firm SatRevolution.
Both of these organizations are repeat clients: Four STP payloads are flying on “Above the Clouds,” and SatRevolution has two satellites aboard — a Stork spacecraft and SteamSat-2, which can check water-fueled thrusters developed by English firm SteamJet Space Systems. The seventh satellite on at this time’s flight is Spire Global’s Adler-1, which can examine the space debris atmosphere in low Earth orbit.
Today’s mission is the primary of six that Virgin Orbit goals to launch in 2022. If all goes in response to plan, two of those upcoming missions will carry off from Spaceport Cornwall in England, taking the corporate’s launch operations worldwide for the primary time.
“This is going to be just a banner year for us,” Virgin Orbit Chief Operating Officer Tony Gingiss mentioned throughout Tuesday’s press name.
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a ebook in regards to the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.