LONG BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The countdown to Cornwall has begun as Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) prepares for start Me Up, the next newly titled landmark launch from the UK. The launch provider’s carrier aircraft, ground support equipment (GSE) and rocket will leave California this week after the first round of now complete rehearsals in wet suits. On track for a November launch, start Me Up is led by a joint mission between the US and UK governments, launched by Virgin Orbit, the UK Space Agency (UKSA), British Space Command, and Cornwall Spaceport.
start Me Up will be a launch of many firsts: the first orbital launch from the UK; the first international launch from Virgin Orbit and the first commercial launch from Western Europe. The company’s first material will begin transport to Cornwall, UK on Sunday 9 Octoberedue to arrive at Spaceport Cornwall on Tuesday October 11e with the GSE and rocket following soon later in the week.
Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit, said: “What an incredible honor it is for us to be part of something so monumental as bringing Britain into the realm of launch. Together with our partners in the UK government, we are launching a new capability that will serve the people, economy and security of the UK.
UK Science Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “As we get closer and closer to the first satellite launch from UK soil, it is great to see the progress being made by Virgin Orbit, Spaceport Cornwall and those from the UK. whole government in carrying out this historic mission, the first of its kind in Europe.
“With 47,000 jobs across the UK, our growing space industry is a vital part of the economy and has an important role to play in catalysing investment, generating growth and prosperity. I look forward to working with this innovative sector and implementing our National Space Strategy.
Ian Annett, Deputy Director General of the UK Space Agency, said: “Seeing the Virgin Orbit plane lift off is an exciting reminder that we are close to the first launch from UK soil and the first launch of a satellite from Earth. ‘Europe. It will be an iconic moment in the history of British space efforts, so it’s fitting that the mission is named after a song by the Rolling Stones, one of the UK’s most iconic bands.
Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey (Commander, UK Space Command), commented: “The completion of US refueling and pressurization dress rehearsals, and the announcement of the mission name and manifesto , have begun the countdown to launch from the UK. I’ve seen firsthand the hard work and collaboration that went into making this happen, and now we can look forward to Virgin Orbit’s arrival in Cornwall. The first-ever space launch, carrying payloads from government and industrial satellites, marks Start Me Up as a historic moment for the UK.
“The development of new launch capabilities will build on the strengths of our space sector and encourage companies around the world to take advantage of these commercial opportunities. It will catalyze investment, create new jobs in communities and organizations across the UK, and inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers.
Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall: “Time to get going! It’s a big moment for all of us in Cornwall as the journey to the UK space launch has officially begun. The mission name and crest reflect and encompass the incredible partnerships between our two countries and our teams.
This will be Virgin Orbit’s fifth consecutive launch to carry payloads for private companies and government agencies. The now comprehensive flight manifest includes payloads from seven global customers, demonstrating the flexibility and possibilities offered by responsive launch solutions.
The launch service was acquired by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Virgin Orbit National Systems, a U.S. subsidiary of Virgin Orbit serving classified customers, as the first task order on the Simplified Launch Indefinite Delivery Contract , of indefinite quantity or “SLIC” of NRO. start Me Up the manifesto includes:
- IOD-3 AMBER (aka IOD-3) – Developed by Satellite Applications Catapult (“SA Catapult”) and Horizon Technologies and built by AAC Clyde Space, all based in the UK IOD-3 Amber is expected to be the first of more than 20 Amber satellites to provide space-based maritime domain data from awareness (MDA) to users.
- Prometheus-2 – Two cubesats belonging to the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory Dstl of the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD). These satellites, co-funded with Airbus Defense and Space who jointly design them with In-Space Missions, will support MOD’s science and technology (S&T) activities both in orbit and on the ground through the development of ground-based systems concentrated at the Dstl near Portsmouth.
- CIRCE (Coordinated CubeSat Ionospheric Reconstruction Experiment) – CIRCE is part of a joint mission between the UK’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory and the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
- DOVER – Developed by RHEA Group in the UK, this is the company’s first satellite in its 30-year history. The satellite is co-funded by the Navigation Program (NAVISP) of the European Space Agency (ESA) and built by Open Cosmos of the United Kingdom. DOVER is a SmallSat that was created as a pathfinder for resilient global navigation satellite systems.
- ForgeStar-0 – Developed by Space Forge of Wales, the satellite is a fully flippable and reusable platform to enable in-space manufacturing. This launch will be the first for the company’s ForgeStar platform and will test future returns of space technology.
- A MAN – Oman’s first orbital mission, it is a unique Earth observation satellite intended to demonstrate the future feasibility of a larger constellation and was developed after a memorandum of understanding between the Sultanate of Oman , Polish small satellite manufacturer and operator SatRev, Polish-born AI data analytics specialists TUATARA, and Oman-based technology innovator ETCO. The deal includes other planned small satellites, including this one, the first in Oman’s history.
- STORK-6 – STORK-6 is the next installment in the STORK constellation from Polish manufacturer and operator of small satellites SatRev. Virgin Orbit has previously launched two spacecraft into this constellation on a previous launch and looks forward to continuing to launch SatRev’s STORK spacecraft in the future.
The missions of these satellites cover a wide range of activities aimed at improving life on planet Earth, including reducing the environmental impact of production; prevent illegal trafficking, smuggling and terrorism; and a host of national security functions.
Virgin Orbit worked closely with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Spaceport Cornwall team to make all necessary preparations for take-off.
start Me Up is named after one of the most iconic British rock and roll bands of all time, the Rolling Stones. The hit song debuted on the 1981 album tattoo yourself and was later released on Forty licks compilation by Virgin Records in 2002.
About Virgin Orbit
Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) operates one of the most flexible and responsive space launch systems ever built. Founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021 and has already put commercial, civilian, national security and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, Calif., and are launched from a modified 747-400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit to operate from locations around the world to better respond to needs of each client. Learn more about www.virginorbit.com and visit us at LinkedInon Twitter @virginorbitand on Instagram @virgin.orbit.
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