Virgin Orbit launches seven satellites into space on Straight Up mission

Modified Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl taking off for the Straight Up launch with LauncherOne beneath the wing
Virgin Orbit
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
2 July 2022

Virgin Orbit has successfully launched seven satellites into space on its latest mission, Straight Up.

Virgin Orbit livestreamed the mission from its YouTube channel – where you can watch the replay.

This launch was particularly important for Virgin Orbit as it marks the first night mission for the responsive launch company. The orbit was approximately 500km above the Earth’s surface at 45 degrees inclination – an orbit that Virgin Orbit made history in reaching with its previous mission, Above The Clouds.

The launch name, Straight Up, was inspired by American singer Paula Abdul’s breakthrough song Straight Up from her debut studio album Forever Your Girl. Released through Virgin Records on 21 June 1988, it was the most successful debut album ever at the time of its release. The iconic dance-pop tune has remained Abdul’s biggest international hit to date.

Paula Abdul visited the Virgin Orbit team ahead of launch to see LauncherOne and Cosmic Girl ready to take to the skies.

“Virgin Orbit has been rising ‘straight up’ since we began commercial launch operations,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “More and more, we are seeing the importance of space to the security of the US and allied countries. We are honoured and committed to supporting the Space Force at this critical time.”

The Mission Manifest

US Space Force procured this launch for the Rocket Systems Launch Program, with payloads provided by the DoD Space Test Program.

The launch carried seven satellites from multiple government agencies that are experiments intended to demonstrate novel modular satellite bus, space domain awareness, and adaptive radio frequency technologies.

The Straight Up launch supported the United States Space Force’s STP-28A mission. The contract to launch STP-28A was awarded to Virgin Orbit National Systems in April 2020 by the United States Space Force.

Launch Name: Straight Up

USSF Mission Number: STP-28A

Launch Site: Fully mobile LauncherOne system conducted the flight from what is currently a bare concrete pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California

Orbit: Approximately 500km above the Earth’s surface at 45 degrees inclination

Virgin Orbit will make history again later this year with the UK's first space launch from Spaceport Cornwall.

Visit Virgin Orbit to keep up with the latest news.