Virgin Orbit Has An Ambitious Mission Of Launching The First-Ever Commercial Sattelite Trip To Mars in 2022

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic rocket plane, the WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane, with SpaceShipTwo passenger craft takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port (Photo: Reuters / Gene Blevins)

Virgin Orbit, the sister company of the space tourism-oriented Virgin Galactic announced earlier today that it is planning to launch a mission to Mars in as early as three years from now. If this happens, Virgin will open a new opportunity to interplanetary solar system exploration. The company revealed more details about this ambitious project during the announcement.

Virgin Orbit released a statement earlier today claiming that the company is currently in collaboration with the company SatRevolution to develop a mission of sending the world's first-ever dedicated small commercial satellite mission to planet Mars. The mission would launch on an air-launch rocket designed by the company to operate from the modified Boeing 747 plane called Cosmo Girl, with the launcher called LauncherOne.

According to Virgin Orbit's Vice President of Business Development Stephen Eisele, it has already witnessed the incredible use of small satellites on the Earth's orbit, and they are excited to begin offering dedicated launches to deep space. The company has been working with SatRevolution along with several other Polish universities as part of the Mars mission. The company added that it will design three scientific missions to Mars, with the first launch expected to happen in 2022.

While details about the Virgin Orbit's ambitious mission of going to Mars have not yet been revealed, the company shared that the spacecraft is as small as 50 kilograms and would be utilized to picture Mars and its moon Phobos, look for subsurface water, and analyze the Martian atmosphere. The LauncherOne rockets to orbit are soon to be launched, but Virgin Orbit is positive that it will be done later this year.

Virgin Orbit also plans to operate on several spaceports which include the Mojave Air and Space Port in California as well as in the Cornwall Spaceport in the United Kingdom. The two-stage LauncherOne vehicle of Virgin Orbit has a lifting capability of up to500 kilograms to orbit in every launch. It measures 16 meters long and is by far the smallest launcher, way smaller than the Electron, the rocket operated by New Zealand's Rocket Lab.

Getting to Mars in 2022 will be no mean feat; however, if Virgin Orbit can place small satellites into the orbit of Mars successfully, it would open a massive opportunity for potential missions to the Red Planet initiated by companies and universities. So far, researchers are already looking at possible ways on how to send a small spacecraft to Mars using novel propulsion technologies.

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