Virgin Orbit’s Tubular Bells mission goes off without a hitch

MOJAVE, Calif.–Virgin Orbit confirmed it successfully deployed into orbit all 7 customer satellites onboard its LauncherOne rocket during the June 30 Tubular Bells: Part One mission.

Virgin Orbit’s 747 carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl took off from Mojave Air and Space Port at approximately 6:50 a.m., PDT, and flew out to a launch site over the Pacific Ocean, about 50 miles south of the Channel Islands.

After a smooth release from the aircraft, the LauncherOne rocket ignited and propelled itself towards space, ultimately deploying its payload into a precise target orbit approximately 500 km above the Earth’s surface.

LauncherOne carried seven satellites to Low Earth Orbit for this rideshare mission: four R&D CubeSats for the U.S. Department of Defense, two optical satellites for SatRevolution, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s first military satellite.

Virgin Orbit’s launch ops team completes fuel loading operations ahead of the company’s Tubular Bells: Part One mission. June 30, 2021. (Virgin Orbit photograph)

“Two successful launches and two groups of happy customers in five months really speaks to our team’s abilities. They’re making air launch look easy — and I can tell you from experience that it’s not,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “We can now proudly say that 17 satellites launched by our system are up in space exactly in their target orbits. We’re looking forward to growing that number tremendously as we push to ramp up our flight cadence in the coming months.”

“What an unforgettable experience to be here in Mojave to watch the Virgin Orbit team complete another perfect mission to space. Everything went exactly to plan and the fact that we dropped the rocket from our 747 at 7:47 a.m., PDT, made it particularly fitting. Perfect timing!” said Virgin Orbit founder Richard Branson. “We had customers here from three countries and I congratulate all of them and all of our wonderful team.”

Tubular Bells: Part One is named after the first track on Mike Oldfield’s 1973 record Tubular Bells, the album that inspired Richard Branson to create Virgin Records and the first ever released by the label.

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket undergoes a cryo load test prior to the company’s Tubular Bells, Part One mission. (Virgin Orbit photograph by Greg Robinson)


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