Boeing takes satellites into space

Britain’s Virgin Orbit is about to launch another cube-filled rocket with the 747.

The space company of British billionaire Richard Branson believes that launching satellites could be much cheaper. Before that, the company had bought a Boeing 747-400 in 2015 and turned it into a kind of flying launch pad called the Cosmic Girl. This device will now launch a missile for the second time. This time from Cornwall.

If all goes according to plan, Boeing will fly into the Atlantic with the LauncherOne space rocket under the wing. Once the missile reaches an altitude of about 10 km and is far enough from shore, its payload is discharged and begins a short free fall. Immediately after that, Cosmic Girl turned sharply to the right and about four seconds later, when Boeing is far enough away, the booster is triggered to launch the payload into orbit.

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First launch

In January 2021, after a failed test launch in 2020, Virgin Orbit brought small satellites into space for NASA’s Launch Services program. It happened (pictured below) from California and over the Pacific Ocean.

Satellite launch

A launch date from Cornwall is uncertain. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has not yet issued the necessary permits, but this could happen at any moment.

start me

The UK’s first launch mission, called Start Me Up, will launch nine separate small satellites for seven projects. Here is an overview of what LauncherOne will bring to the space.

Amber IOD-3 It is a spacecraft entirely developed by the United Kingdom that aims to track what is sailing across the ocean like nothing else. It is the first satellite in a constellation of 20 to collect marine information.

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Prometheus -2 It consists of two small satellites, cubes, from the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL, UK Defense Research Agency). The cubes will test new systems for imaging the Earth and tracking radio signals.

circe Two types of cubes for DSTL and US Naval Research Laboratory. Their instruments will monitor turbulence above Earth that results from interactions with the Sun’s magnetic emissions and particles.

dove It was developed by the British company RHEA Group and co-financed by ESA. Navisp is developing technologies for the next generation of GPS, navigation and timing systems.

ForgeStar-0 It is the first satellite developed in Wales. The company behind it, Space Forge, wants to manufacture high-quality computer chips and crystals in space and then return them to Earth.

man It is Oman’s first orbital mission. It is a single Earth observation satellite designed to prove the future viability of a larger constellation. The platform was developed with Polish partners.

Stork 6 Produced by one of these Polish partners, SatRev. STORK consists of Earth observation satellites that can, for example, provide farmers or governments with information about crops, but also about damage caused by natural disasters. Virgin Orbit previously launched two satellites of this constellation.

Sources: Virgin OrbitAnd the BBC News

Photo: Virgin Orbit

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