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Virgin Orbit successfully launches satellites during first night mission

Virgin Orbit successfully launches satellites during first night mission

Virgin Orbit launched a rocket carrying seven satellites from Mojave Air and Space Port in California on Saturday morning at 1:49 a.m. ET (10:49 p.m. local), marking the small satellite launcher's first successful night mission. Is. The company brought the satellites into low Earth orbit with the help of its Boeing 747 carrier aircraft called Cosmic Girl, with a LauncherOne rocket mounted under one wing.

The mission, named Straight Up after 1988's Paula Abdul Song, included seven research satellites as part of NASA's space test program. Like its previous missions, Virgin Orbit carried satellites into space by lifting the Cosmic Girl LauncherOne rocket 35,000 feet above the ground, giving it a headstart before the rocket detached and launched its payload into orbit. Virgin Orbit initially postponed the mission on Thursday after it learned that its rocket propellant temperature was "slightly out of range."

Virgin Orbit has made a total of five launch attempts, but failed only once during its first test flight in May 2020. It has been on a roll since reaching orbit for the first time in January 2021, deployed a set of satellites into orbit in June 2021 and has yet to complete. Another mission earlier this year. Virgin Orbit's Straight Up mission is the company's fourth successful flight so far.

Virgin Orbit is owned by British billionaire Richard Branson, and should not be confused with Virgin Galactic, the company's separate arm for commercial spaceflight. The company went public last year through a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) merger. Although it has completed all of its launches from Southern California so far, Virgin Orbit plans to take off from Cornwall, England, later this year.