July 25, 2024

Virgin Orbit’s satellite launch could revolutionize access to low Earth orbit

Virgin Orbit, a company part-owned by Richard Branson, is set to launch the first orbital satellite from western Europe on Monday. The mission, known as “Start Me Up”, will involve a modified Boeing 747 with a rocket attached to its wing being released over the Atlantic at 35,000 feet to take small satellites from seven customers into orbit. The launch, scheduled to take off at 2216 GMT on Monday, is dependent on weather and other scheduling issues, with back-up dates in mid and late January. The launch highlights an emerging small-launch sector as Europe faces a growing crisis due to the Ukraine war, delays to the Ariane 6 rocket, and the grounding of Vega rockets after a failed launch last month.

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