19 October 2022


Media Updates, News, Space

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Friday 14 October was a milestone moment for RHEA Group, when our very first satellite, DOVER Pathfinder (DOVER), was integrated into Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne, the rocket that will be taking it into space following launch on Virgin’s Cosmic Girl jet.

DOVER is a SmallSat created as a pathfinder for resilient GNSS-based positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) solutions. It will take off on board the Virgin Orbit launcher from Spaceport Cornwall on 11 November 2022.

Overseeing the quality assurance of the integration process was Dr Emma Jones, Business Director UK, who has been instrumental in the negotiations, planning and design of our historic SmallSat. DOVER passed its full health check in the Spaceport Cornwall integration clean room, and was then inserted into the flight deployer. The whole process took 5 hours. The next time the dispenser’s door will open will be in space to propel RHEA’s DOVER satellite into orbit.

DOVER will be launched as part of the first ever orbital mission from the UK, using a horizontal launch system. This uses a rocket dispatched from under the wing of a modified Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 jet. All previous Virgin Orbit launches have taken place from the USA over the Pacific Ocean.

On Friday 14 October two additional aircraft carried LauncherOne and its ground system equipment (GSE) from California, USA, to Spaceport Cornwall. The first was a commercial cargo aircraft containing the GSE and payload fairing and the second, a C17 Globemaster aircraft carrying the rocket itself, which landed later that night.

Images © RHEA Group, Virgin Orbit and Open Cosmos