Mission Above the Clouds


Mission Overview

About the Mission


The U.S. Department of Defense is launching several Research and Development (R&D) satellites from multiple government agencies that are experiments in space-based communications and in-space navigation, as well as a university payload sponsored by NASA. This launch, also known as STP-27VPB, was awarded to Virgin Orbit’s subsidiary VOX Space by the DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) as part of the DoD Space Test Program’s (STP) Rapid Agile Launch (RALI) Initiative. DIU is an organization working to accelerate the adoption of commercial technology into the U.S. military to strengthen national security.

Polish company SatRevolution is launching two nanosatellites: STORK-3 and SteamSat-2. STORK-3 join the STORK-4 and STORK-5 Marta satellites placed in orbit on our June 2021 mission as part of the SatRevolution’s Earth-observation capabilities, with a focus on serving customers in the agricultural sector to take medium-resolution photos. SteamSat-2 is a technology demonstrated for SteamJet Space System (UK)’s innovative water-fueled thrusters for in-space propulsion.

Spire Global, a satellite imaging provider, will launch Adler-1, which was developed in partnership with the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) and Findus Venture GmbH. Adler-1 is part of a growing movement to address the issue of dangerous space debris and improve sustainability in Low Earth Orbit. The 30x10x10 cm satellite will study the space debris environment in Low Earth Orbit to complement the space debris models by obtaining in-situ data. Spire Global was a late addition to the Above the Clouds manifest, taking advantage of Virgin Orbit’s industry-leading responsive capabilities.

Launch Details



January 13, 2022

Launch Site

Mojave Air and Space Port
Mojave, California


500 km circular orbit at 45 degrees inclination


Press Release
Press Kit


Customers on this Launch