Virgin Orbit Launches Satellites- and Investors- Into Space

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Virgin Orbit Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:VORB) is sending seven satellites and figuratively, more than a few investors into orbit later today. It is the companys fourth-ever space mission.

The flight, branded “Above the Clouds” after a 1998 song by Gang Starr, is scheduled to lift off from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port today between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. The mission will see the small satellites placed in orbit for a trio of customers.

The mission is the first of six that Virgin Orbit aims to launch in 2022, Space.com reported. If all goes according to plan, two of these upcoming missions will lift off from Spaceport Cornwall in England, taking the company’s launch operations international for the first time.

“This is going to be just a banner year for us,” Virgin Orbit Chief Operating Officer Tony Gingiss said during a press call on Tuedsay. The project comes in the wake of successful commercial launches that sent 19 satellites into orbit.

Virgin Orbits stock opened on Thursday at $10 per share and rose as high as $11.12 before retreating to $9.80 in advance of the launch. Some have suggested that a successful mission today could similarly launch the companys stock as high as $17 or $18 per share. Part of Sir Richard Branson’s larger Virgin Group, Virgin Orbit went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange last Friday.

Virgin Orbit Launches Satellites- and Investors- Into Space

The company operates one of the most flexible and responsive space launch systems ever built. Founded by Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021 and has already delivered commercial, civil, national security and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbits LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California and are air-launched from a modified 747- 400 carrier aircraft, which allows it to operate from locations all over the world.

The companys growth parallels that of the space program itself. As it notes on its website, small satellites are ushering in a new era of space capabilities connecting us across vast distances, stimulating the global economy, and expanding the limits of human knowledge. This rapidly growing industry requires a launch service that is as agile and affordable as the satellites themselves. But until now, there hasnt been one. Its LauncherOne system combines proven technology with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques to propel human curiosity to new heights.

Less than three weeks ago, Branson said Virgin Orbit is well positioned to continue revolutionizing satellite launch and building unrivalled space technology that we believe will positively change the world. With a diverse and global customer base, it is the only launch company that can go anytime, from anywhere, to any orbit.

Indeed, speed appears to be of the essence for Branson and his team. Over the past four months alone, Virgin Orbit has made announcements with the Southwest Research Institute, ANA Holdings, Astroscale, SatRevolution, Hypersat, Horizon Technologies and Arqit Quantum. For these customers and others with forthcoming announcements, the company said, Virgin Orbit expects to launch dozens of rockets in total, conducting missions ranging from space debris mitigation to exploration and from environmental monitoring to national security.

This article first appeared on GuruFocus.