About the Mission
Virgin Orbit’s Start Me Up mission will be a mission of many firsts: the first orbital launch from the United Kingdom; the first international launch for Virgin Orbit; and the first commercial launch from western Europe; launching the first Omani satellite; the first satellite built in Wales; and more. These firsts are exciting in and of themselves, but each of them is also the first of what we hope and expect to be many.
Enabled by funding from the UK Space Agency, the mission will meet a key ambition of the UK Government’s National Space Strategy, the first ever orbital launch from the UK. Virgin Orbit has worked closely with a number of partners to prepare for this historic launch including the United States Department of Defense, United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the United States’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
To prepare for this mission, our LauncherOne rocket journeyed across the pond, courtesy of a C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft operated by the Royal Air Force. After arriving at Spaceport Cornwall, it underwent another round of wet dress rehearsals to confirm all systems are a go for launch. It was then mated with Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, after the customized 747 aircraft that serves as the flying fully-reusable launch pad and mission control center made its own newsworthy flight from the U.S. to the U.K.
This history-making mission is made possible by Virgin Orbit’s mobile, highly-flexible LauncherOne system, which will take off from Spaceport Cornwall in the far west of Great Britain. Virgin Orbit’s unique air-launch platform transforms a runway into a spaceport, eliminating the need to rely on traditional spaceports that support vertical launches. Building on a track record of 100% mission success in its four operational launches to date, Virgin Orbit is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the most responsive launch methods in the world.
Customers on this Launch