HomeAstronomy & SpaceVirgin Orbit rocket launches 7 US defense satellites

Virgin Orbit rocket launches 7 US defense satellites

A Virgin Orbit rocket carrying seven US Defense Department satellites was launched from a special Boeing 747 flying off the coast of Southern California on Friday night and streaked into space.
The modified jumbo jet took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in the Mojave Desert before releasing the rocket over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Los Angeles.
The launch was paid for by the United States Space Force as part of a Defense Department test program. The seven payloads will carry out a variety of experiments.
“And there you have it, people!” Approximately an hour after the rocket separated from the 747, the company tweeted shortly before 1 a.m. local time. “Newton Four successfully reignited and launched all customer spacecraft into their intended orbit.”
It was Virgin Orbit’s fourth commercial launch and the company’s first at night. The launch had been scheduled for Wednesday night, but it was cancelled due to a propellant temperature issue.
The mission was named “Straight Up” after Paula Abdul’s debut studio album “Forever Your Girl,” which was released by Virgin Records in 1988.
Richard Branson, the British billionaire, founded Virgin Orbit in 2017. It is based in Long Beach, California, and currently launches from the Mojave airport, though international missions are in the works.
Later this year, the company plans to launch two satellites from Newquay Airport in Cornwall, England. The satellites will conduct radio signal monitoring tests as part of a joint project between the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom and the National Reconnaissance Office of the United States.


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