Virgin Orbit is the first among private aerospace companies planning to launch CubeSats to Mars. This week, it revealed the collaboration with, SatRevolution—Wroclaw-based NewSpace company—and numerous universities in Poland to draft multiple smallsat missions to the Red Planet. The aerospace firm has specified that it is expecting to launch its first CubeSat to Mars as early as 2022.
Virgin Orbit—the subsidiary of a giant aerospace manufacturing company, Virgin Galactic—is committed to conducting cost-effective smallsat projects. The determination set by Virgin Orbit of launching smallsats became concrete strong after NASA succeeded in sending two CubeSats to Mars under InSight mission. Now, the company assumes that, like NASA, it can also launch its lightweight spacecraft into deep space via its LauncherOne space vehicle.
Will Pomerantz—VP of special space projects at Virgin orbit—informed The Verge, “After the secure and successful launch of CubeSats into the orbit around Mars, the company can capture visual information, search for the presence of water, observe the planet’s atmosphere. Eventually, the company would be able to study the moons orbiting around Mars, Venus, other surrounding planets, and may examine other planetary bodies in the surrounding space, such as asteroids.
However, the rocket decided by Virgin Orbit, intended to launch its CubeSats is also under construction. Boeing 747 airplane will carry the CubeSat-carrying 70-foot long rocket into the skies, from where it would be further launched to space.
On a related note, in every space launch, either crewed or unscrewed, a space rocket has to pierce through the Earth’s atmosphere and space atmosphere. There is a specific region across the route where space weather and Earth’s weather meet. NASA is planning to study that particular region.
To observe the conditions at that intersecting space region comprehensively, NASA is ready to launch a particular satellite, ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer) docked into Pegasus XL rocket manufactured by Northrop Grumman.
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