Small number of Virgin Orbit employees will return tomorrow to work on next mission

Last week we saw the first major collapse of a recent commercial space company, with Virgin Orbit furloughing its entire staff except for a handful of employees. However, there are some signs of hope, as tomorrow more employees will return for work with more coming later.

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Virgin Orbit seeks cash infusion to reboost the company

It’s been a turbulent week for Virgin Orbit, headquartered out of Long Beach California. The company suspended all operations and furloughed most of its workforce for a week as it sought relief by raising funds to rescue its rocket-flying business, according to sources close to the matter on March 15.

During a 5 p.m. EDT meeting that day, company higher-ups explained that employees could cash in their paid time off as the furlough would be unpaid with a small team remaining in place continuing to work.

LauncherOne is a two-stage rocket — powered by liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene — that can send small payloads into low Earth orbit after being air-launched by a modified 747 aircraft. Credit: Virgin Orbit

During the third quarter of 2022, Virgin Orbit reported a loss of $42.9 million as cash demands continued, with fourth quarter funding coming from an investment arm of its founder Richard Branson’s parent company, Virgin Group.

Notes in the amounts of $25 million, an unsecured convertible note secured in November of 2022, along with another $30 million in senior secured notes in December 2022 and January 2023 gives “first priority” access to assets by Branson’s parent company.

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Virgin Orbit pausing operations as it looks for a means of survival

According to CNBC’s Michael Sheetz, Virgin Orbit will be shutting down and furloughing its employees for at least one week while it looks for funding to continue operations.

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How to watch Virgin Orbit’s upcoming LauncherOne mission, ‘Above the Clouds’

Virgin Orbit is back at it again with their one-of-a-kind LauncherOne rocket. Wednesday, the rocket will launch mid-air from Virgin Orbit’s custom Boeing 747 with several customer satellites onboard. Here’s everything we know and how you can watch it live.

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Launch Spotlight: Virgin Orbit’s first 2022 launch of its LauncherOne vehicle

After becoming a publically traded company last week, Richard Branson’s commercial launch provider, Virgin Orbit, is preparing for its first launch of 2022. Onboard will be four payloads from both civil and commercial entities. Continuing on with fun names Virgin Orbit has given its mission, this one is called “Above the Clouds.”

Launch Date: Wednesday, January 12, ~5:00 p.m. EST (Takeoff: ~4:00 p.m. EST)

Virgin Orbit partners with the Southwest Research Institute to explore research opportunities on future flights

Virgin Orbit announced a partnership with the Texas-based nonprofit Southwest Research Institute to work on future research missions.

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Virgin Orbit announces plans for reusability and a new LauncherTwo vehicle

The smallsat launcher owned by Richard Branson announced it will be joining the trend of other space companies and merging with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). This also comes with some new future plans for Virgin Orbit like turning LauncherOne into a reusable rocket and developing a new LauncherTwo vehicle.

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[Update: Succesful orbit and payload deployment] How to watch Virgin Orbit’s second flight of 2021

This morning Virgin Orbit is attempting their third flight of the LauncherOne air-launched vehicle. This will be the first operational flight of the vehicle after their successful Demo-2 mission in January.

Date: Wednesday, June 30th, 10:47 a.m. EDT (Drop and Launch)

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Virgin Orbit getting close to fly their first operational LauncherOne mission

Virgin Orbit has become one of the newest launch providers to come online with the success of their Demo 2 launch earlier this year. Now their first operational mission is nearing launch readiness by the end of this month.

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Virgin Orbit selected to launch 6 imaging satellites to low Earth orbit

In a press release Wednesday, Virgin Orbit announced that they were selected by geospatial analytics company Hypersat, and QinetiQ, a defense and security company, to launch 6 hyperspectral satellites into low earth orbit.

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Virgin Orbit picks up former OneWeb Satellites CEO to get them ready for the commercial market

Richard Branson’s satellite launcher Virgin Orbit has selected their first Chief Operating Officer to help get the company ready for commercial operations after the success of their Demo 2 mission. This mission successfully deployed 10 NASA payloads from NASA’s Launch Services Program into orbit around Earth bringing them officially online as a company capable to send satellites into orbit.

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Virgin Orbit to launch Royal Netherlands Air Force’s first satellite

On the heals of their first successful launch into orbit earlier this month, Virgin Orbit has been selected to send a new payload for the Royal Netherlands Royal Air Force called BRIK-II, a payload named after the their first airplane.

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Virgin Orbit successfully launches rocket to space from wing of a 747 plane in milestone mission

Virgin Orbit attempted its second demonstration launch on Sunday after their first attempt failed shortly after the first stage ignition last year. This time around they didn’t just launch a mass simulator but actual payloads from NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program ElaNa 20 which contained several CubeSats from universities across the nation.

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Virgin Orbit will launch a test rocket from the wing of a 747 plane as soon as Wednesday

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.

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Virgin Orbit targeting mid-January for Launch Demo 2 mission following COVID-19 delays

Virgin Orbit planned to conduct its second Launch Demo mission before the end of the year, but the spread of COVID-19 forced the team to halt pre-flight work this month. After following recommended safety guidelines, the team at Virgin Orbit is back on track, the company shared today. Virgin Orbit’s launch approach involves dropping a space-bound rocket called LauncherOne from the wing of a 747 plane named Cosmic Girl.

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Virgin Orbit forced to halt prep for next plane-based rocket launch test due to COVID-19

Virgin Orbit is developing a launch system that can deploy small rockets from anywhere on the planet, but the spread of COVID-19 continues to affect the pace of progress.

Virgin Orbit names ex-Aerojet Rocketdyne strategy chief as CSO ahead of next mission

Virgin Orbit has added Jim Simpson to its executive team to serve as the launch company’s first Chief Strategy Officer. Simpson filling the CSO role is the latest sign that Virgin Orbit is maturing and preparing for commercial service. VO is scheduled to launch its second demonstration flight in less than two weeks.

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Virgin Orbit plans to return to flight before end of this year

After the first Demo Mission of its LauncherOne air launch system ended in the ocean rather than orbit, Virgin Orbit plans to launch Demo Mission 2 on December 19. This will be its second-ever launch attempt, and this time, it will be adding customer payloads to the top of the rocket.

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Virgin Orbit Launch Demo 2 mission targeting late 2020, will carry 11 NASA CubeSats

Virgin Orbit will return to flight as soon as late 2020 with a second demonstration mission aimed at dropping a space-bound LauncherOne rocket from the wing of a 747 plane named Cosmic Girl. The second orbital flight test will include NASA payload this time with 11 small satellites onboard for deployment.

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NASA holding listening dialogues over Stennis Space Center name as political opposition mounts

In a moment when the nation is rethinking how we memorialize historical figures who represent different values than our society today, an important NASA facility located in Mississippi is receiving national attention over its name.

Stennis Space Center is a NASA engine test facility located just north of Interstate I-10 in Hancock County, Mississippi. The NASA site is 39 miles east of NASA’s neighboring Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s not uncommon for engineers and project managers from nearby Slidell, Louisiana, to work at the Mississippi test facility.

The NASA site takes its name from the late Senator John Cornelius Stennis, a celebrated U.S. senator from Mississippi who served in Congress for over 41 years. Mr. Stennis can be described as a proponent of racial segregation based on the senator’s statements and voting record on civil rights policy while in office.

The issue of Stennis Space Center’s name has since been raised to NASA leadership. Today, the possibility of a new name is considered possible, but opposition from statewide and national leadership could be a roadblock.

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Virgin Orbit says ‘too many people lack the comfort and safety to work on tomorrow’s challenges’

The team at Virgin Orbit published a statement this week expressing its support for “peaceful protests and demonstrations” following the death of George Floyd.

The 46-year-old African American died from asphyxiation on Memorial Day after being handcuffed by Minneapolis police and pinned down on the street for almost nine minutes with a knee on his neck. Floyd was stopped for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill.

The loss of George Floyd’s life adds to the heartbreaking list of African Americans who have been been killed at the hands of systemic racism in the last decade alone. From Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice to Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Prejudice in this country is deadly, and despite NASA’s best framing, this weekend’s historic launch may grab the nation’s attention, but the achievement does nothing toward healing the hearts of all who are heartbroken over each new tragedy.

That sentiment is one reflected in Virgin Orbit’s statement. It’s difficult to focus on the challenges of tomorrow without pausing to recognize the challenges of the day.

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Virgin Orbit dropping space-bound LauncherOne rocket from 747 wing in first orbital flight test [Update]

Update 5/24/2020 8:37 p.m. EDT: New launch target between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 25

Update 5/25/2020 3:56 p.m. EDT: Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket had a clean release from the wing of the Cosmic Girl 747, but the mission terminated shortly after release. Virgin Orbit says the crew and aircraft are safe.

A rocket typically lifts off from a launchpad to move a payload from the ground to somewhere in space, but Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit sees another path to sending orbital vehicles and satellites to low Earth orbit.

How does dropping a rocket into free fall from an airplane named Cosmic Girl before its engines fire off sound?

Virgin Orbit planned to complete the first orbital flight test of its LauncherOne rocket today to demonstrate just that, but a “minor sensor issue” has caused Virgin Orbit to scrub the test flight for Sunday.

The company believes the sensor problem can be resolved with a quick turnaround, however, suggesting a potential Memorial Day orbital flight test for LauncherOne.

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Virgin Orbit designed a ‘mass-producible’ ventilator to help COVID-19 patients

In need of some positive coronavirus news? Try this.

Virgin Orbit has a mission to open space for everyone, and it’s not letting COVID-19 get in the way of that goal. In fact, the Virgin Galactic spinoff is actively working to ease the coronavirus burden on first responders and healthcare workers.

Virgin Orbit announced today that it has designed a “mass-producible ventilator” that it plans to start producing next week.

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