The National Reconnaissance Office Is Partnering With the UK’s Ministry of Defence on Historic Mission Aboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne

Virgin Orbit’s first international commercial rocket launch will carry a joint U.K. and U.S. mission scheduled for takeoff later this year.

LONG BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) announces today that it will carry a joint mission between the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the United States’ National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in its historic flight out of Newquay Airport in Cornwall, England later this year. It will be the first rocket launch from British soil, and the first commercial launch from Western Europe.

Virgin Orbit will send two satellites to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) using the LauncherOne launch platform aboard Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747 aircraft. The Prometheus 2 CubeSats will provide a test platform for monitoring radio signals including GPS and sophisticated imaging, expected to pave the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with our allies.

The mission’s objective is to allow the MOD to better understand how the U.K. and international partners can work together to create a more capable and flexible system at a lower cost than could be achieved alone. The technology onboard the satellites is designed to identify new techniques and algorithms for operating satellites and data processing.

Virgin Orbit’s first overseas flight will be the launcher’s sixth consecutive mission carrying commercial and government customers since it began operations in 2021, demonstrating its capability to launch from any 747 capable airfield globally. Virgin Orbit has been working closely with the U.K.'s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the RAF, and the Spaceport Cornwall team to make all necessary preparations for liftoff. This launch of LauncherOne expands the NRO’s innovative launch capabilities as the NRO’s first-ever horizontal launch.

“This is a superb example of growing U.K.-U.S. space cooperation,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “We believe the Cornwall mission will provide a demonstration of the flexibility and mobility of the Virgin Orbit LauncherOne platform. We are honored to support the U.K. on this, the first orbital launch in history from British soil. We look forward to continuing to support the NRO, the MOD, and allied counties as they form closer partnerships, drive innovation, and expand collaboration in space.”

The launch service was acquired from Virgin Orbit National Systems, Virgin Orbit’s U.S. subsidiary, as the first task order on the NRO’s Streamlined Launch Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity Contract (SLIC).

“We could not be more excited to support our National Security Space and U.K. mission partners in this incredible, historic launch,” said Virgin Orbit National Systems President Mark Baird. “We believe the ‘Anytime, Anywhere, Unwarned’ capability that we are driving to bring to the U.S. and our Allied partners is a game changer, and we are all in to make this a resounding success.”

About Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) operates one of the most flexible and responsive space launch systems ever built. Founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021, and has already delivered commercial, civil, national security, and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747-400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Learn more at www.virginorbit.com and visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @virginorbit, and on Instagram @virgin.orbit.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including with respect to the expected Brazilian space activities and launches. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” “will be,” “will continue,” “will likely result,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to the Company’s ability to access sources of capital; its ability to grow market share in the developing space economy; market acceptance of its current and planned products and services and ability to achieve sufficient production volumes, as well as the factors, risks and uncertainties included in the Company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31, 2022, as well as in the Company’s subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), accessible on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and the Investor Information section of the Company’s website at www.virginorbit.com. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Virgin Orbit assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Virgin Orbit gives no assurance that it will achieve its expectations.

Linda Rivera
Principal Communications Officer, Virgin Orbit
Linda.Rivera@virginorbit.com
+1 323 316 6499

Source: Virgin Orbit