LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – A Virgin Orbit rocket carrying seven US defense satellites launched from a special Boeing 747 taking off off the coast of Southern California and went into space Friday night.
The modified jumbo jet took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in the Mojave Desert and launched the rocket over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Los Angeles.
The launch was managed by the US Space Force for the Department of Defense test program. The seven satellites will perform different experiments.
It was the fourth commercial launch and the first overnight launch for Virgin Orbit. The launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday night, but that attempt was canceled due to problems with the propellant temperature.
Virgin Orbit named the mission “Straight Up” after the song on Paula Abdul’s debut studio album, “Forever Your Girl”, which was released in 1988 through Virgin Records.
Virgin Orbit was founded in 2017 by British billionaire Richard Branson. It is based in Long Beach, California, and currently launches from Mojave Airport, but is planning an international mission.
Later this year, the company will launch two satellites on a mission from Newquay Airport in Cornwall, England. The satellites will conduct radio signal surveillance tests in a joint project of the UK Ministry of Defense and the US National Reconnaissance Office.