Los Angeles (AFP) – A Virgin Orbit rocket carrying seven US Defense satellites blasted off from a private Boeing 747 flying off the coast of Southern California and headed into space Friday night.
The giant modified aircraft took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in the Mojave Desert and launched the missile over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Los Angeles.
The launch was managed by the US Space Force for a Department of Defense test program. The seven satellites will perform different experiments.
This was the fourth commercial launch and first overnight Virgin Orbit launch. The launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday night, but that attempt was canceled due to a problem with the temperature of the propellant.
Virgin Orbit called the mission “Straight Up” after the song on Paula Abdul’s debut album, “Forever Your Girl”, which was released via Virgin Records in 1988.
Virgin Orbit was founded in 2017 by British billionaire Richard Branson. It is based in Long Beach, California, and is currently launched from Mojave Airport, but it plans to take on international missions.
Later this year, the company will launch two satellites on a mission from Newquay Airport in Cornwall, England. The satellites will conduct radio signal monitoring tests in a joint project between the British Ministry of Defense and the US National Reconnaissance Office.
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