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Virgin Orbit/Greg Robinson

Virgin Orbit's carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl undergoes final checks ahead of the company's Launch Demo 2 mission. Jan. 17 at Mojave Air and Spaceport. Cosmic Girl will be utilized later this year to launch a Dutch satellite into orbit from Mojave.

MOJAVE — After the success of launching 10 micro satellites into orbit as part of a NASA program, Virgin Orbit has been tapped by a Dutch space engineering company to deploy a small satellite into orbit, according to a news release from Virgin Orbit.

Innovation Solutions in Space and Virgin Orbit will launch the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s first satellite called BRIK-II later this year.

BRIK-II will serve as a testbed for various communications experiments and demonstrate how nano-satellites can provide a meaningful contribution to military operations. 

According to Virgin Orbit, the mission represents a " significant step forward for the Dutch Ministry of Defense’s efforts to develop their first space capabilities, with a particular emphasis on responsive launch."

BRIK-II will fly as a rideshare payload on an upcoming Virgin Orbit LauncherOne mission. Sharing the ride into space will be payloads for the U.S. Department of Defense's Space Test Program.

"With the U.S. government as a co-passenger, the mission represents an exciting opportunity for the Netherlands and the U.S. to jointly explore, develop and benefit from the next generation of space capabilities," Virgin Orbit's news release states.

The mission will "will pursue a demonstration of late-load integration, mating the payload to the rocket shortly prior to launch," and prove critical in "pioneering the payload processing capabilities required to execute responsive launch."

The mission will launch from Mojave Air and Space Port.

“We’re so honored to be supporting the RNLAF by providing this first launch, and we’re looking forward to seeing the Netherlands and the U.S. find mutual benefit from leveraging our uniquely flexible and mobile launch system," said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart." I can already foresee the day when we will take off from a runway on Dutch soil and deliver RNLAF satellites to space directly. LauncherOne’s unique air launch capability is filling a gap for government space missions — mobility and responsiveness are sorely needed to disincentivize aggression in space at a time when we rely more and more on a threatened space infrastructure."

RNLAF commander Lt. General Dennis Luyt noted the mission's importance for the Netherlands.

Virgin Orbit conducted its first successful use of the LauncherOne platform to deliver 10 NASA-sponsored satellites into orbit on Jan. 17.

The LauncherOne platform delivers its payload after being launched midair from a Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747 aircraft. 

“Being able to launch our very first satellite is a major milestone for the RNLAF and the Dutch joint force as a whole. We are on a pathway to developing space capabilities as part of a yet to be released MoD Space Strategy. As set out in our latest Defense White Paper, we would like to develop our Joint ISR capabilities in space alongside our allies and partners,” said Luyt. “Being able to share this major milestone with Virgin Orbit’s development of responsive launch capability is second to none. We feel privileged to take this step and look forward to what the future has to offer.”

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