9 January 2023


Media Updates, News, Space

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RHEA Group, along with the UK space community, was disappointed to learn of the failure of the Virgin Orbit launch, which took off from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay on Monday 9 January. Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl jet took off from Spaceport Cornwall with nine satellites on board, including DOVER Pathfinder (DOVER).

DOVER was launched as part of the first ever orbital mission from the UK. The rocket was 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.

Unfortunately LauncherOne failed after leaving the jet, before the satellites could be deployed into their respective orbits.

The DOVER Pathfinder spacecraft measured just 30x10x10cm and was built in cooperation with Open Cosmos. This innovative SmallSat was created as a pathfinder for resilient GNSS-based positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) solutions, designed to provide R&D results for a waveform devised by RHEA engineers.

Emma Jones, UK Business Director at RHEA, said: “RHEA is very disappointed in the failure of LauncherOne but we still see this mission as a success. We have a very innovative mission design that will be recreated, and we know the UK space sector can work together to deliver against tight timescales and demonstrate the passion, drive and commitment of the UK space community. Although disappointing, it is just a stepping stone to the next success.”