January 7: VO now has a more firm date of Wednesday, January 13.

Virgin Orbit has announced the next test opportunity for its Launch Demo 2 mission from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The mission will test launching a rocket to space from the wing of an airplane.

The Richard Branson-founded company will conduct its second flight test of LauncherOne, its small payload rocket, using Cosmic Girl, it’s piloted and modified 747 airplane. If successful, LauncherOne will go to space for the first time. Virgin Orbit has been developing its unconventional launch strategy quietly for years, and this year could be the first in which we see the portable launcher capable of deploying from any airspace actually go to space.

Back in May, VO conducted its first launch demonstration mission in which the team successfully deployed LauncherOne from Cosmic Girl. LauncherOne terminated the mission shortly after a clean release from Cosmic Girl, however, due to what the team later confirmed to be a component failure. The second Launch Demo mission will include NASA payloads in the form of 11 small satellites supplied through the space agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.

Virgin Orbit says its Demo 2 mission could happen as soon as this Sunday, January 10, although the launch window will remain open through the month. The actual test date could change based on conditions including weather and readiness so stay tuned! While Virgin Orbit doesn’t yet livestream these launch attempts, Space Explored will share insight and media as soon as it becomes available.

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