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RAF Loans Pilot to Virgin Orbit for Satellite Launch Program

3 Oct 2019, 16:13 UTC
RAF Loans Pilot to Virgin Orbit for Satellite Launch Program
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Mathew Stannard (Credit: RAF)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (RAF PR) — The Royal Air Force and Virgin Orbit have selected the RAF pilot to be seconded to the company’s ground-breaking small satellite launch programme.

The partnership between the RAF and Virgin Orbit was unveiled at the Air and Space Power conference in July. Following a tough selection process, Air Vice-Marshal Simon ‘Rocky’ Rochelle and Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart have announced that Flight Lieutenant Mathew ‘Stanny’ Stannard had been selected.

Flight Lieutenant Stannard is currently a Typhoon pilot with one of the RAF’s test and evaluation squadrons and is scheduled to join the pioneering Virgin Orbit programme next year, pending final US and UK regulatory approvals.

The secondment is expected to last three years and will see Flight Lieutenant Stannard join the fleet of expert ‘test pilots’ trialling Boeing 747-400 aircraft from which cutting-edge satellites will be launched.

Flight Lieutenant Stannard will return to the RAF with considerable skills and expertise gained from the secondment which will improve the UK’s understanding of the military uses of small satellites.

Defence Minister Annie-Marie Trevelyan said:

“The UK and the US already have an incredibly close defence relationship and now we’re working ...

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