Virgin Orbit‘s national systems division has begun final preparations with Space Systems Command to launch a pair of research and development satellites for the U.S. Space Force from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, U.K.
The Space Test Program-27VPD mission will liftoff to orbit onboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket to perform R&D experiments to demonstrate the capability of commercial space technologies to support military and government applications, SSC said Friday.
STP-27VPD is the fourth mission to use the LauncherOne that will launch from Boeing‘s Cosmic Girl modified 747 carrier aircraft.
In a separate announcement, Virgin Orbit said its rocket has been integrated into the carrier aircraft for its first orbital launch from the U.K., with a launch window opening today.
The STP-27VPD satellites were developed as part of a collaboration between the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
“This mission is a great example of the successful international cooperation that can be achieved through common space goals,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Shea, director of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program
The launch mission was procured in partnership with the Defense Innovation Unit under the Rapid Agile Launch Initiative and is managed at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.