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Virgin Orbit to launch Straight Up from Mojave Air and Space Port

In a first for Virgin Orbit, Straight Up will make a nighttime launch from Mojave Air and Space Port in California, at 10 p.m., June 29 2022.

The evening launch is a precursor to one planned from later this summer for Cornwall, in the south west of England, which will be the United Kingdom’s first satellite launch.

Launch technicians prepare LauncherOne for Above the Clouds mission in January. LauncherOne and Cosmic Girl will be used to launch Straight Up on June 29, 2022, at 10 p.m., PST, from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Virgin Orbit photograph)

The Straight Up launch will be livestreamed via YouTube and is available here. The launch window begins at 10 p.m., PDT, with public access to the stream beginning at 9:45 p.m. Updates about the launch will be on Virgin Orbit’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The seven payloads on the rocket are part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Space Test Program (STP) and will conduct experiments in space-based communications and to demonstrate a new modular satellite housing, or “bus;” space domain awareness to identify and protect assets in space; and adaptive radio frequency technologies. Space Force procured the launch for the Rocket Systems Launch Program.

“It’s great to be back up in Mojave,” said Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit on a pre-launch press call. “We are incredibly proud and honored to be supporting the Space Force at a time when space is so important.”

Straight Up will reach an orbit that no other launch system has reached from the West Coast, according to a Virgin Orbit press release. The target orbit will be about 310.7 miles above the Earth’s surface at a 45-degree inclination. The company achieved this orbit on its Above the Clouds mission in January.

The rocket to be used in the Straight Up mission was mated on June 17 to Cosmic Girl, the aircraft that serves as Virgin Orbit’s fully reusable launch pad and mobile Mission Control Center.

This will be the fourth commercial launch for Virgin Orbit. The Straight Up mission was named for the Paula Abdul hit release on Virgin Records in 1988.

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