NASA and Virgin Orbit have announced that the ELaNa 20 mission will fly on the upcoming second orbital test flight of the LauncherOne rocket. NASA and Virgin Orbit issued a press release on 3 August. In which it stated that NASA is happy for the 11-satellite mission to fly on this test flight, known as Launch Demo-2 to Virgin Orbit. The launch of these 11 CubeSats will honour an NASA Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contract originally signed in 2015.

Virgin Orbit experienced a failure during their first orbital attempt in May 2020. This was later traced to rupture in the high-pressure Liquid Oxygen (LOX) line in the first-stage, causing an engine shut-down. Having identified and fixed this issue they are ready to try again. This next flight is expected before the end of the year and NET September 2020.

Corporate logo of Virgin Orbit. Courtesy of Virgin Orbit.

 

The 11 satellites on-board make up 10 separate missions from individual institutions across the USA.

  • CACTUS-1 – Capitol Technology University, Maryland.
  • CAPE-3 – University of Louisiana, Louisiana.
  • EXOCUBE 2 – California Polytechnic University, California.
  • INCA – New Mexico State University, New Mexico.
  • MiTEE – University of Michigan, Michigan.
  • PICS 1/2 – Brigham Young University, Utah.
  • PolarCube – University of Colorado, Colorado.
  • Q-PACE – University of Central Florida, Florida.
  • RadFXSat-2 – Vanderbilt University, Tennessee.
  • TechEdSat-7 – NASA Ames Research Center, California.