Virgin Orbit announces new Launch Demo 2 window
Virgin Orbit is hitting the ground running in 2021. The team is now targeting Wednesday 13 January for its Launch Demo 2 mission, with additional opportunities to launch throughout the month.
Virgin Orbit is the premier dedicated small satellite launch service. It has taken a former Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 passenger plane and transformed her into Cosmic Girl, with a mission to launch satellites into space from her wings using a rocket, LauncherOne.
Virgin Orbit ended 2020 with a successful wet dress rehearsal, which essentially combines all of the operations from the dry run with propellant loading. The team also ran other tests and activities to prepare for the launch, such as mating the encapsulated payload assembly and network checkouts. They are now making their way through the final reviews, checks and readiness discussions.
In Virgin Orbit’s first Launch Demo, it demonstrated a lot of rocket science – the entire pre-launch sequence, flyout, rocket separation and unpowered flight, engine start and first stage powered flight. The team is fired up to build on those steps and demonstrate the rest of the rocket system – including the upper stage. Virgin Orbit will be collecting lots of data from LauncherOne as it flies to enhance their knowledge and prove the system’s capabilities.
Virgin Orbit is also preparing to take another big step with this mission as it’s the first time Launcher One will carry customers’ satellites. It will fly nine CubeSat missions, selected by NASA, primarily designed and built by US universities.