Virgin Orbit announced on Thursday that its LauncherOne rocket is fully assembled and will soon be shipped to Mojave Air and Space Port in California for pre-launch operations. The rocket’s upcoming mission is called Tubular Bells, Part One, which will launch CubeSat satellites for the Department of Defense (DOD) and Royal Netherlands Air Force, as well as two optical satellites for SatRevolution. The launch is scheduled for June of this year.
Virgin Orbit completed the execution of the LauncherOne Launch Demo 2 mission in January that validated the rocket system's mission capability.
The DOD has tapped Virgin Orbit in support of the Space Test Program’s (STP) Rapid Agile Launch (RALI) Initiative. The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) awarded the upcoming launch, also referred to as STP-27VPA, to Virgin Orbit subsidiary VOX Space. The Tubular Bells, Part one-launched satellites are planned to strengthen the U.S. national security.
The upcoming LauncherOne mission will also see The Netherlands' first military CubeSat satellite, BRIK II, sent to space. The satellite was developed by Innovative Solutions in Space, with contributions from the University of Oslo, the Delft University of Technology and Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre.
SatRevolution, a Polish space company, will use LauncherOne to get its first two optical STORK-4 and STORK-5 satellites into orbit. The satellites are a part of the company's planned 14-satellite STORK constellation.