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Virgin Orbit: the third Launcher One mission gets underway

Today the launch of seven more satellites into orbit from a B-747

The third Launcher One mission of the US space company Virgin Orbit starts tonight at 9:30pm Italian time. The B-747 aircraft will take off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California will be used as a launch pad for a carrier rocket that will carry seven satellites into orbit. These will be in addition to the 19 already installed by the company's system led by US tycoon Richard Branson

"We are going to an orbit that we believe has never been reached from the West Coast. We're demonstrating with this launch that we can get to orbital inclinations and geometries that, probably if you had asked us a year ago, we would have said: maybe you can", said Virgin Orbit's chief operating officer Tony Gingiss

Among the jumbo's crew will be British Royal Air Force pilot Lt. Matthew Stannard. About an hour after liftoff, at an altitude of 35,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, he will be responsible for undocking the rocket, which seconds later will fire its first-stage engine to begin its ascent to orbit. Four satellites belong to the Department of Defense's Space Test Program, two to Polish developer Sat Revolution and one to the company Spire. 

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency