A Virgin Orbit rocket holding seven US Defense Department satellites was initiated from a special Boeing 747 flying off the Southern California coast and directed toward space Friday night.
The jumbo jet was launched from Mojave Air and Space Port in the Mojave Desert and fired the rocket over the Pacific Ocean, northwest of Los Angeles.
The US Space Force prepared the launch for a Defense Department test program.
“And there we have it, folks!” the company tweeted before 1:00 am local time, about an hour after the rocket singled out from the 747. “NewtonFour successfully reignited and deployed all customer spacecraft into their target orbit.”
It was Virgin Orbit’s fourth commercial liftoff and first night launch. The launch was initially scheduled for Wednesday night, but that project was scrubbed due to a propellant temperature problem.
Virgin Orbit called the mission “Straight Up” after the hit on Paula Abdul’s debut studio album “Forever Your Girl,” which was published through Virgin Records in 1988.
Virgin Orbit was launched in 2017 by British billionaire Richard Branson. Its headquarters are in Long Beach, California, and presently conducts takeoffs from the Mojave airport. However, it is intended for international missions.
Later this year, the company will launch two satellites on a mission flying out of Newquay Airport in Cornwall, England. The satellites will perform radio signal monitoring experiments in a cooperative project between the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense and the US National Reconnaissance Office.