Virgin Orbit is getting great to launch its next mission to space, with a target window at the end of this month. This will be the first time Virgin Orbit is flying after its first successful orbital launch in January, and it’s carrying seven small satellites on behalf of clients including the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It’s also going to be the first time everyone can watch along live as Virgin Galactic makes the trip to space, since the company is streaming the mission via YouTube.
Previously, Virgin Orbit has opted not to provide live video of its flights, choosing instead to provide a feed of text updates via its social media channels. The YouTube stream should provide unprecedented views of the Virgin launch process, which includes transporting its small Launcher One rocket on to a high altitude for a mid-air launch from the wing of a modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft.
Live streaming launches is pretty much de rigueur in the space industry at this point, especially among the crop of so-called ‘new space’ companies that includes SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Blue Origin. SpaceX has even been doing it throughout its Starship development process, which is unusual because it’s broadcast a number of failures on top of its successes.
Virgin Orbit’s novel aircraft-assisted launch process should mean its streams provide some unique perspective vs. the vertical take-off group, so it’s probably worth keeping an eye on this one.