Virgin Orbits signs deal with US space forces to launch rocket in Guam

VOX Space announced on May 7 local time that it had been allowed to launch a payload into orbit from Guam, and its first launch would be in orbit to deploy experimental cubesat for different government agencies,media reported. The Virgin Orbit subsidiary said it had signed an agreement with the U.S. space force signed a mission that would allow it to use its LauncherOne system for launch missions at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

Virgin Orbits signs deal with US space forces to launch rocket in Guam

Unlike conventional launch operations, where the rocket starts in the vertical position of a launch pad, the company’s rocket will be launched from a Boeing 747 in mid-air.

VOX Space believes Guam is an ideal launch base because of its low-latitude location and clear launch trajectory.

“Launching from Guam makes it easy for us to get every orbital inclination our customers need. With our air launch system, we can fly out like any other plane, fly to sea and launch our rockets. We only used the smallest footprint plus Guam’s natural launch location, and the result was a great match,” Virgin Orbits CEO Dan Hart said in April, referring to the company’s efforts to win approval for Guam’s launch plan.

It is reported that VOX Space’s first satellite from Guam will be Space Test Program-27VP, a mission of the U.S. Space Force, which will put some government agencies’ experimental and technical demonstration satellites into orbit.

In April, VOX Space won a $35 million tax contract that would require 44 technology demonstration satellites to be put into orbit. The plan will include three LauncherOne rockets, with the first launch tentatively scheduled for October 2021.