Galactic Unite Black Leaders in Aerospace Scholarship and Training Program First Cohort Announced

Credit: Virgin Galactic

LAS CRUCES, NM (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic today announced the first students to be awarded scholarships in the Galactic Unite Black Leaders in Aerospace Scholarship and Training (BLAST) program.

BLAST is a scholarship, mentoring and fellowship program for college Sophomore through to Senior year Black scholars pursuing STEM education with a focus on aerospace in the U.S.


UK Space Agency Provides New Funding to Support Sustainable Future of Space

Distribution of space debris. (Credit: ESA)
  • Space debris is a major threat to the satellite services we rely on
  • 13 projects involve industry and academia across the UK

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency is providing £1.7 million [US $2.3 million] for new projects to support sustainable space operations, Science Minister George Freeman announced today.

The 13 new projects will help track and remove dangerous debris in space. They include an AI-based tool which can take autonomous action to avoid a collision and another which will see multiple small spacecraft fired at debris before taking it into the atmosphere to dispose of it.


Virgin Orbit Adds Distinguished Spaceflight Engineering Executive Amid Operations Scale Up

LONG BEACH, Calif., JANUARY 28, 2022 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Leading US-based space launch and space services company Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) announced today the addition of industry leader Dr. Candace Givens as its new Vice President of Engineering. Dr. Givens joins the Virgin Orbit team as the company scales up its flight rate to accommodate high demand seen from commercial customers, the national security community, the international community, and NASA.

Dr. Givens joins a team that has uniquely demonstrated the ability to bring new technology to spaceflight and move it into regular launch operations—Having now completed their third commercial spaceflight and having deployed 26 satellites during the first 12 months of operations. In her role as Vice President of Engineering Dr. Givens will work closely with Virgin Orbit chief engineer and senior vice president of technology Kevin Sagis who has been instrumental in developing, proving and establishing the air-launched LauncherOne System. 


NASA Selects Virgin Orbit to Provide Future Launch Services Through VADR Contract

LONG BEACH, Calif., January 27, 2022 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) announced today its selection by NASA’s Launch Services Program to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated Rideshare (VADR) missions. The fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract will leverage commercial satellite launch practices, and together with the flexibility afforded by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system enables more efficient launch timelines, mission-tailored orbits, and competitive costs.

“This contract award is a great step forward for commercial space,” said Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit. “The VADR contract vehicle now provides a platform for NASA to more easily contract for flights on our LauncherOne service. That means it will be easier than ever for us to work with NASA to provide targeted and economic access to space, maximizing the science gains from their small satellite missions and enabling ever greater technological innovation.”


12 Companies to Provide Venture Class Launch Services for NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 12 companies to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) missions, providing new opportunities for science and technology payloads and fostering a growing U.S. commercial launch market.

Award selections are:

  • ABL Space Systems of El Segundo, California
  • Astra Space Inc. of Alameda, California
  • Blue Origin Florida LLC of Merritt Island, Florida
  • L2 Solutions LLC of Houston
  • Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation of Chandler, Arizona
  • Phantom Space Corporation of Tucson, Arizona
  • Relativity Space Inc. of Long Beach, California
  • Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Long Beach, California
  • Spaceflight Inc. of Seattle
  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California
  • United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado
  • Virgin Orbit LLC of Long Beach, California

Sultanate of Oman and SatRevolution Announce International Consortium for Country’s first Satellite Launch and First Mission to Deep Space

REC satellite (Credit: SatRevolution)

MUSCAT, Oman (SatRevolution PR) — The Sultanate of Oman has selected Poland’s SatRevolution S.A. (“SatRev”) to deliver and operate its proprietary nanosatellite technologies alongside partners Virgin Orbit, a leading US-based launch company, Polish capital group and AI data analytics specialists TUATARA, and Omani-based emerging technology innovator ETCO, under a framework agreement for collaboration on Oman’s first mission to deep space and for delivering small satellites to Low Earth Orbit, the first in the country’s history. The framework agreement was signed today in Muscat by the five consortium members.


Sultanate of Oman and Virgin Orbit Announce International Consortium on Country’s First Mission to Deep Space

  • Oman selects innovative space companies Virgin Orbit, SatRevolution, TUATARA and ETCO as mission partners to launch the sultanate’s first satellites to Low Earth Orbit
  • The first satellite is scheduled to launch from the UK’s spaceport Cornwall in 2022
  • The Oman mission to deep space will be targeted for launch as early as Q3 2024

MUSCAT, Oman (Virgin Orbit PR) — The Sultanate of Oman, leading US-based launch company Virgin Orbit, Polish Small Satellite manufacturer and operator SatRevolution, Poland-originated AI data analytics specialists TUATARA, and Omani-based emerging technology innovator ETCO, have together signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration on Oman’s first mission to deep space. The same agreement also lays the foundation for the consortium to collaborate on delivering additional small satellites to Low Earth Orbit, including the first in Oman’s history.


New Chairman Takes Charge as India Space Agency Struggles to Launch Satellites and Begin Human Spaceflight

New ISRO Chairman Shri. S. Somanath (left) takes over from K. Sivan. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new chairman has taken over the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at a crucial time as the space agency continues to struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of becoming only the fourth nation capable of launching astronauts into orbit.


Virgin Orbit Mission Brings Air Launch Closer to UK Operations

LauncherOne ignites on its way to space. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

Satellite launch from Spaceport Cornwall is a step closer following Virgin Orbit’s successful ‘Above the Clouds’ mission in the US.

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency welcomes the news that Virgin Orbit has successfully completed its third mission from California on Thursday 13 January, launching several satellites into orbit from beneath the wing of a 747.


Virgin Orbit Launches 7 Payloads into Orbit

Cosmic Girl after takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA, January 13, 2022 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB), the responsive launch and space solutions company, confirmed it successfully deployed into orbit all 7 customer satellites onboard its LauncherOne rocket during today’s Above the Clouds mission.


Virgin Orbit Delays Launch to Thursday

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

Virgin Orbit has postponed a satellite launch scheduled for Wednesday by 24 hours so engineers could take “a little extra time to thoroughly validate the system and to check our sensor readings.

“We are now targeting Thursday, Jan 13 as our first available launch opportunity, with potential takeoff between ~1pm & 3:30pm Pacific. We have additional windows available in the coming days, if needed,” the company tweeted.

“The launch system, the team, and our customers’ satellites remain in excellent shape as we prepare for the start of our latest mission. Set your alarms and be sure to tune into our mission livestream on Thursday, which kicks off at 12:30pm PT/20:30 GMT,” Virgin Orbit added.

LauncherOne will place seven satellites into orbit after being dropped from its Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft off the coast of California. The flight will originate from the Mojave Air and Space Port.

Virgin Orbit to Launch Satellites From California on Wednesday

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will attempt to make it three in a row by launching a group of commercial and government satellites off the California coast on Wednesday afternoon.

Virgin Orbit’s Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl carrier plane is scheduled to take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. PST (21:00–23:30 GMT). The aircraft will drop the LauncherOne booster over the Pacific Ocean near the Channel Islands approximately one hour after takeoff.


Virgin Orbit Stock Sinks in NASDAQ Debut

Credit: Google Finance

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Orbit’s debut on the NASDAQ stock exchange wasn’t exactly stellar.

The stock opened at $9.18 when trading began on Thursday, Dec. 30. It reached a low of $8.04 when trading ended the following day befrore rising to $8.30 in after-hours trading.

Richard Branson’s launch company went public after merging with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that was already traded on NASDAQ. The merger allowed Virgin Orbit to go public on the exchange under its own name.

NextGen stock was trading at $9.68 when the merger deal was announced on Aug. 23.

A SPAC is a “blank check company” that is essentially an investment vehicle that is traded on the stock exchange. SPACs typically have two years to find a private company with which to merge and take public. If they don’t, then investors can received their money back. Investors also have the option to sell their shares back to the company if they don’t like the deal, which is what happened with the NextGen-Virgin Orbit merger.

As a result, Virgin Orbit will received only $228 million of the $483 million in growth capital it had expected when the deal was announced in August. The Virgin Group and other investors had to put more money into the merger to meet the $100 million cash requirement for the deal.

Virgin Orbit Begins Trading on NASDAQ After Merger with NextGen Acquisition Closes

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

LONG BEACH, Calif. & BOCA RATON, Fla. (NextGen Acquisition/Virgin Orbit PR) — NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (NASDAQ: NGCA) (“NextGen”) today announced the closing of its business combination with Vieco USA, Inc., the parent company of Virgin Orbit (“Virgin Orbit” or the “Company”).

As of the closing of the transaction, which was approved by NextGen stockholders on December 28, 2021, NextGen has changed its name to “Virgin Orbit Holdings, Inc.” Virgin Orbit’s common stock and warrants are expected to begin to trade on the NASDAQ Stock Market (“NASDAQ”) on December 30, 2021, under the ticker symbols “VORB” and “VORBW”, respectively.


Merger Leaves Virgin Orbit with Less Than Half of Funding Originally Planned

Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a clear sign of investor skepticism, Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will receive only about $228 million of the $483 million in growth capital it expected after merging with the NextGen Acquisition II special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).