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Virgin Orbit, ULA Lift Off Holiday Weekend Launches

By Rachel Jewett | July 5, 2022

Virgin Orbit’s Straight Up launch. Photo: Virgin Orbit

Both Virgin Orbit and United Launch Alliance executed successful launches during the holiday weekend serving U.S. Department of Defense customers. 

Virgin Orbit’s fourth mission, Straight Up, carried seven satellites to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) for the U.S. Space Force (USSF) late Friday in California. The launch was through the Rocket Systems Launch Program, with payloads provided by the Department of Defense Space Test Program (STP) for multiple government agencies.

The mission also marked the first nighttime demonstration of Virgin Orbit’s air-launched system, in which its LauncherOne rocket takes off from a modified carrier aircraft mid-flight. 

“We are honored to be supporting and delivering for the U.S. Space Force and the U.S. Department of Defense at such a critical juncture for national security space, our nation, and our world,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart.

Separately, a ULA Atlas V rocket launched the USSF-12 mission to Geosynchronous Orbit on July 1 from Cape Canaveral for the Space Force’s Space Systems Command. The classified payload was described as a “critical national security mission.”