Virgin orbit to launch sitael satellite for european space agency

Logan, Utah – 4 August 2017 – Virgin Orbit was selected to launch a SITAEL satellite for the European Space Agency (ESA). Virgin Orbit and SITAEL signed a launch service agreement at the 31st AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellite.

With Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne, SITAEL will launch its μHet sat, a technical demonstration of a new electric propulsion system for ESA. Established in 1994 and headquartered in Mola di Bari, Italy, SITAEL is the largest privately-owned space company in Italy and provides turn-key Earth observation services, from mission concept to small microsatellite production to ground infrastructure services.

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne is a simple, expendable, launch vehicle designed to place small satellites of up to 500 kg / 1100 lbm into a wide range of Low Earth Orbits (LEO) at an affordable price. Rather than launching from ground level, LauncherOne is carried to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet by the 747-400 carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said: “Opening access to space is an incredible opportunity to bring together governments around the world with commercial enterprises. Virgin Orbit is proud to apply our commercial solutions and innovation with SITAEL to support the European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency. Collaborative efforts like ours will enable cost-effective access to low earth orbit missions and beyond.”

SITAEL Chief Executive Officer Nicola Zaccheo said: “As a micro satellite customer, we are very excited for our innovative SITAEL technologies to get the flexibility and service of a primary payload on a dedicated small launch vehicle by Virgin Orbit. The satellite, developed in partnership with an Italian Space Agency and European Space Agency program, is the first all-electric micro satellite ever in space, validating both the SITAEL bus (S-75 platform) and SITAEL low power Hall Effect Thruster (HT100). SITAEL is pleased to take advantage of Virgin Orbit’s unique capabilities.”



William Pomerantz,


Virgin Orbit provides dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. Virgin Orbit is developing LauncherOne, a flexible launch service for commercial and government-built satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and will be air-launched from a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft capable of operating from many locations in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Virgin Orbit’s systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbit’s talented and growing team, visit



SITAEL is the largest privated-owned Space Company in Italy leading the Small Satellites sector. With over 350 employees and state-of-the-art facilities, SITAEL covers all the processes needed for the Design, Development, and Production of Small Satellites, Advanced Propulsion Systems, Instruments and Avionics.

Preferred partner for many stakeholders in several space missions, SITAEL joins its flexibility and deep knowledge of design with a continuous look to innovation, ensuring the highest quality attention to each project while optimizing costs and development times.

SITAL belongs to Angel Group, an Italian holding world leader in Railways, Aerospace and Aeronautics markets. For further information visit