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VOX Space secures USSF STP-S28 launch contract

VOX Space, a subsidiary of Virgin Orbit, has secured a USD35 million launch service contract from the US Space Force’s (USSF’s) Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) Office for the Space Test Program-S28 (STP-S28). The award follows the successful final development test of LauncherOne carried by Virgin Orbit in early April.

STP-S28 is the first task order under the USSF’s RSLP Office (part of the Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) Launch Enterprise) Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract.

According to the contract, VOX Space will carry out three launches of the LauncherOne rocket to place a payload of 44 small satellites in low earth orbit (LEO). The first launch is tentatively planned for October 2021. The Department of Defense (DoD) payloads for the STP-S28 contract will be provided via the DoD Space Experiments Review Board (SERB). The STP-S28 contract will also launch a number of international and ride-share payloads.

On April 12 Virgin Orbit and VOX Space successfully carried out the final development test of its air-launched LauncherOne rocket. The test was a cryogenic captive carry test that featured end-to-end launch rehearsal testing of all the associated subsystems. Prior to the final development test, Virgin Orbit carried out 23 flight tests, of which 11 were captive carry tests and a one was a drop test of LauncherOne.

Virgin Orbit spokesperson Kendall Russell told Jane’s that a follow-on orbital launch demonstration flight is “a few weeks away” as the engineers are analysing the flight-test data from the final development test as well as carrying out multiple rehearsals of flight-launch preparations in line with Covid-19 procedures.

US Air Force Colonel Rob Bongiovi, director of the SMC’s Launch Enterprise told Jane’s

The Cosmic Girl 747-400 carrier aircraft carries the LauncherOne rocket for its final development test. (Virgin Orbit)
Launch engineers monitor data screens on Cosmic Girl’s flight deck (Virgin Orbit)

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