Virgin Orbit to provide launch services for NASA

Virgin Orbit's June 2021 space mission - Tubular Bells: Part One
Virgin Orbit
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
28 January 2022

Virgin Orbit has been selected by NASA’s Launch Services Program to provide launch services for its Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated Rideshare (VADR) missions.

“This contract award is a great step forward for commercial space,” said Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit. “The VADR contract vehicle now provides a platform for NASA to more easily contract for flights on our LauncherOne service. That means it will be easier than ever for us to work with NASA to provide targeted and economic access to space, maximizing the science gains from their small satellite missions and enabling ever greater technological innovation.”

Virgin Orbit plane in the sky with LauncherOne rocket attached
Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit has already launched 13 satellites to space for NASA through programmes such as the Venture Class Launch Services programme and the CubeSat Launch Initiative. In a similar spirit the VADR acquisition will build on that foundation. The contract has a five-year ordering period, with a maximum total value of $300 million, and will be managed by the Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

Virgin Orbit recently completed its third successful launch in less than 12 months, bringing its total number of successfully deployed satellites to 26. The team has already proved its LauncherOne system, reached new orbital inclinations never before possible from the West Coast of the US, and even launched through inclement weather. Virgin Orbit is now scaling up its flight rate to accommodate the high demand seen from commercial customers, the national security community, the international community and, through programmes like VADR, the US civil space community.

Meanwhile, Virgin Orbit has also announced Dr Candace Givens as its new Vice President of Engineering. Dr Givens brings more than two decades of experience from Northrop Grumman, Boeing and TRW Space & Defense.

Visit Virgin Orbit to find out more.