October 16, 2021

Virgin Orbit gets approval to deploy satellites from Guam after passing an environmental examination

2 min read

Virgin Orbit is a step closer to receiving approval to deploy satellites from Guam, a United States island in Western Pacific that is home to the company’s headquarters. It was announced on August 27 that the Federal Aviation Administration had completed its final environmental assessment, which determined that Virgin Orbit would have “no significant impact” on the environment if it were to conduct launches from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam utilizing the Boeing 747-400 transport aircraft as well as LauncherOne rocket.

According to the FAA’s study, Virgin Orbit plans to launch a maximum of 25 tiny satellites into a range of low Earth orbits during the next five years, with a goal of completing 25 missions in total. The conclusion of the environmental evaluation process, on the other hand, does not imply that the FAA will grant a launch permit to Virgin Orbit, according to the organization. “The corporation must also adhere to all safety, hazard, and financial responsibility rules set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

According to William Pomerantz, who works at the Virgin Orbit as a vice president of the special projects, the successful environmental study is a “major step forward in the company’s quest to obtain a launch permit for the orbital spaceflight from Guam. As we progressed through the process, we were grateful for the regular communication from the team at the FAA.”

Virgin Orbit, a subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, wants to deploy small satellites which weigh up to a maximum of 500 kilograms (approximately 1,100 pounds), according to the company’s website. The firm conducted its first successful deployment in January and its 2nd successful launch in June from Mojave Air and Space Port situated in California, both of which were accomplished successfully. As soon as Virgin Orbit’s license is obtained, the company plans to launch from the Spaceport Cornwall in England and the Andersen Air Force Base.

LauncherOne rockets are launched from the Boeing carrier aircraft, which flies them to an altitude of around 45,000 feet before releasing them. The rockets afterward ignite their engines and shoot off into space, completing their mission.

The 36th Wing of the United States Air Force, based at Andersen, took part in the environmental evaluation process. Andersen Air Force Base is where Virgin Orbit will conduct integration, propellant loading operations, mating, takeoff, and landing operations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. There would be no development or ground-disturbing operations on Andersen, there would be no alteration to the current infrastructure on the property.

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