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TWIRL 99: Virgin Orbit to perform air launch of LauncherOne from the UK

With Christmas and New Year over and done with, rocket launches are starting to get back into full swing. On Monday, we’ll see Virgin Orbit launch its Cosmic Girl plane from Cornwall in the UK before it performs an air launch of the LauncherOne rocket. The event is notable for the UK because plans to launch rockets from the country have been going on for years and now it’s finally starting to happen.

LauncherOne and the TWIRL logo

Monday, January 9

  • The first mission we have on Monday will see SpaceX launch a Falcon 9 carrying OneWeb satellites to orbit. For those who read last week’s edition of TWIRL, this is the same mission that was reported then but it looks like it was delayed. OneWeb is similar to SpaceX in that it’s establishing a constellation of internet-beaming satellites, however, it doesn’t have the rockets to orbit satellites so it relies on other governments and companies who do, like SpaceX. The mission will launch from Cape Canaveral at 4:55 a.m. UTC and will be available to stream on SpaceX’s website.
  • The second mission of the day will launch just five minutes after the last but from the other side of the world. The private Chinese firm, Galactic Energy, will launch its Ceres-1 rocket carrying a number of satellites including Xiamen SciTech 1. The mission will be known as Give Me Five and launches at 5:00 a.m. UTC from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
  • Finally, Virgin Orbit will perform an air launch of LauncherOne from its Boeing 747 called Cosmic Girl. It’s carrying a number of payloads to orbit but what’s really notable about this mission is that it’s taking off from Cornwall in the UK. Talk of a UK spaceport has been going on for years but it looks like launches are now finally taking place. The launch is due between 10:16 p.m. UTC and 12:16 a.m., and tickets for the event are sold out according to BBC News. The launch could be viewable on Virgin Orbit’s website.

Friday, January 12

  • The last mission of the week will see SpaceX launch its Falcon Heavy carrying the USSF-67 mission for the US Space Force. The mission will see the launch of the Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM (CBAS 2) military communications satellites and the LDPE 3a rideshare satellite which hosts several experimental payloads. The mission takes off from Florida from 10:30 p.m. UTC and might be streamed on SpaceX’s website.


  • The only launch we got last week was a Falcon 9 from SpaceX carrying several SmallSats as part of the Transporter-6 rideshare mission.

That’s all for this week, check in next time!

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