Now that Virgin Orbit is comfortable carrying satellites into space, it’s ready for you to tune in. The orbital delivery company is livestreaming a rocket launch for the first time, with an expected takeoff time around 9:50AM Eastern. The “Tubular Bells: Part One” mission will see the Cosmic Girl host aircraft deploy the LauncherOne rocket roughly an hour after lifting into the sky.
LauncherOne will have plenty to do during the flight, as Space.com noted. It’s carrying seven satellites for three countries, including the US (four cubesats for the Department of Defense Space Test Program), Poland (two vehicles for SatRevolution) and the Netherlands (a cubesat for the Royal Netherlands Air Force).
As before, Virgin Orbit’s appeal is its flexibility and cost — organizations can put payloads into space more on their own terms, and potentially for less money than needed for a conventional launch. The company has had just two launches before now, though. In that light, a lot is riding on this mission — it should help prove that Virgin is ready to pick up the pace and compete against private spaceflight rivals like Rocket Lab and SpaceX.
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