Virgin Orbit is celebrating a smoother second launch demonstration. The company has successfully carried customer satellites into space for the first time after the Cosmic Girl host aircraft deployed the LauncherOne rocket over the Pacific Ocean for its latest test.
The payload that successfully reached the orbit included nine missions from NASA and several universities, most of them were launching cubesats and other tiny orbiters as well.
LauncherOne successfully released the satellites into low Earth orbit after Virgin hinted it had successfully crossed into space and entered orbit. Meanwhile, the first demonstration ended in disappointment after LauncherOne failed to ignite.
NASA is supporting the move as part of its Venture Class Launch Services program that’s meant to explore new and hopefully lower-priced methods of bringing payloads to space.
Though Virgin still needs some time and work to do before it will start offering these services regularly, the success of this move will reduce the costs of fielding satellites and provide an alternative when the smaller straight-to-space rocket is not ideal for obvious reasons.
With operations for our #LaunchDemo2 mission already in full swing, it’s an exciting morning here at Mojave Air and Space Port!
LOX loading on the rocket has begun, and we’re looking good to hit our target takeoff time of approximately 10:30 AM Pacific. pic.twitter.com/naBppEJRhD
— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) January 17, 2021