Launch: Latest on Virgin Orbit + Relativity Space building Stennis test stand + Vector rehearsing in Alaska

NewSpace Watch
June 20, 2018

With so many smallsat rocket launch systems in development and/or beginning to fly, there will be an days with multiple updates piling up. Here are some postings on Tuesday:

** Virgin Orbit readies LauncherOne rocket for maiden flight –

Virgin Orbit is just months away from the first launch of its LauncherOne rocket. The company is currently undergoing an extensive test campaign to ensure that the vehicle will function correctly on its maiden flight.

The first captive carry test is coming up in a few weeks. The manifest is growing:

LauncherOne’s manifest is filling up fast for a company that is yet to reach orbit. Virgin Orbit has signed a deal with the European Space Agency to launch the SITAEL satellite – a demonstration mission for a new electrical propulsion system. Similarly, NASA has ordered an ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) launch. Additionally, The US Department of Defense has awarded Virgin Orbit a launch contract through Virgin Orbit’s VOX Space subsidiary which handles the national security market.

On the commercial front, GomSpace has ordered a launch for several nanosatellites which will track ships and planes. Cloud Constellation Corporation has signed a deal for 12 LauncherOne missions to deploy its SpaceBelt constellation. SpaceBelt will enable “space-based cloud storage data centers.” And most impressively, OneWeb has signed a deal for 39 LauncherOne flights to deploy a portion of its internet constellation.

** Relativity Space on Twitter: “First second stage vertical test stand platforms complete! Building up our new E4 test complex to accomplish full-scale hold down tests at #NASA @NASAStennis.

Artist's view of Relativity Space engine test facility at NASA Stennis

** VECTOR on Twitter: “Hello from Kodiak! Vector-R MEU engineering Stage 1 test unit in the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) Payload Processing Facility, awaiting telemetry testing & payload integration dress rehearsals on Pad C…”

Vector R at Kodiak launch facility

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