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Virgin Orbit launches mission STP-27VPB “Above the Clouds”

13 Jan 2022, 17:54 UTC
Virgin Orbit launches mission STP-27VPB “Above the Clouds”
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Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne and its 747 carrier aircraft “Cosmic Girl” have launched the US Defense Department’s STP-27VPB mission along with three commercial satellites. The launch occurred on Thursday, January 13 at approximately 2:51 PM PST (22:51 UTC). Cosmic Girl took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port before flying out to the launch zone near the Channel Islands off the southern California coast.

The LauncherOne vehicle, making its fourth orbital flight attempt, and the third overall orbital launch of 2022, carried 11 satellites to a 500-kilometer circular orbit inclined 45 degrees to the Equator. This inclination is lower than usual for West Coast launches, and as such Cosmic Girl flew further out over the Pacific than usual. This allowed LauncherOne to reach the lower-inclination orbit without overflying land.
Cosmic Girl carries a LauncherOne rocket during a previous captive carry test. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)
Cosmic Girl carried the fully fueled LauncherOne rocket under its left wing, attached to a pylon that uses a hard point Boeing had originally built into that wing for carrying a spare engine. The 747 had this capability because its engines were too large to be carried aboard most freighter aircraft at the time it was ...

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