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UK’s Royal Air Force Loans Pilot For Virgin Orbit Missions

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Flight Lieutenant Matthew ‘Stanny’ Stannard of the UK’s Royal Air Drive. courtesy of the Royal Air Drive.

The Royal Air Drive (RAF) and Virgin Orbit introduced the subsequent step in an thrilling new area partnership with the collection of an RAF check pilot to be seconded to the small satellite tv for pc launch program, pending U.S. and U.Ok. regulatory approvals.

The announcement was made in Lengthy Seaside, California, aboard the enduring RMS Queen Mary ship – a becoming venue given the ship’s historical past as Winston Churchill’s floating headquarters for components of World Conflict Two and an emblem of the U.S./U.Ok. particular relationship. The British Consulate in Los Angeles hosted the occasion, the place Air Vice-Marshal Simon “Rocky” Rochelle and Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart introduced that Flight Lieutenant Mathew “Stanny” Stannard had been chosen.

Stanny is at the moment a pilot with one of many RAF’s check and analysis squadrons and can be part of the pioneering Virgin Orbit program to allow studying throughout a variety of areas. Virgin Orbit has developed a brand new small satellite tv for pc launch automobile known as LauncherOne, which is launched from a modified Boeing 747-400 known as Cosmic Woman.

The Royal Air Drive’s Purple Arrows show group flew over the ship as a part of the occasion, which is among the final stops on their North American tour.

Earlier within the day, the Purple Arrows joined up in flight with Virgin Orbit’s custom-made 747-400 service plane, Cosmic Woman, for a particular mixed-formation flypast above the Mojave Air and Area Port in California.

Air Vice-Marshal Rochelle, the RAF Air Functionality Chief of Workers, mentioned, “It’s nice information that the RAF can now verify the secondment of Flight Lieutenant Stannard to the Virgin Orbit group. This transfer comes by way of our shut collaboration and formal partnership with Virgin Orbit inside Crew ARTEMIS. Having one in every of our Take a look at Pilots working on the coronary heart of such a cutting-edge program is a major step within the RAF’s area journey. It additionally reinforces the shut relationship now we have with business and with the U.S., we anticipate this to additional allow U.Ok. satellite tv for pc launch capabilities.”

The secondment is predicted to final three years. Flt. Lt. Stannard mentioned, “I’m delighted to have been chosen for this position and I’m trying ahead to working with the Virgin Orbit group. There are vital alternatives for the RAF within the area area so to be on the forefront of this space, working in direct partnership with Virgin Orbit is an actual privilege.”

“As an American firm with British possession guided by Sir Richard Branson, a very legendary British entrepreneur, it’s maybe inside our DNA to assist the UK and the US collaborate in area,” mentioned Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart.

“As a part of Crew ARTEMIS, we’ve been working with the RAF and the U.S. Air Drive to show the utility of small satellites and responsive, resilient area launch and operations. We’re thrilled to welcome Flt. Lt. Matthew Stannard to our group of massively proficient pilots the place I do know his presence will transfer us additional, sooner and to new heights.”

British Consul Normal for Los Angeles Michael Howells commented: “Not solely is that this partnership an excellent demonstration of how the U.Ok. and U.S. proceed to cooperate on safety and protection, however it’s also an ideal instance of how Southern California and the U.Ok. stay hubs of innovation for the way forward for spaceflight. Virgin Orbit are already a key associate for our industrial spaceport within the U.Ok., and we’re excited for the U.Ok. to proceed as a worldwide chief in small satellite tv for pc know-how and launch functionality.”

The previous U.Ok. Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt introduced the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) bold area program in July, committing Kilos 30 million ($36.9 million) to fast-track the launch of a small satellite tv for pc demonstrator inside a yr.

The small satellite tv for pc demonstrator, also referred to as Program ARTEMIS, is being delivered by a brand new transatlantic group of U.Ok. and U.S. protection personnel and business companions together with Virgin Orbit. This exercise will sit alongside a number of different packages that can show the U.Ok.’s creating position in area.

Virgin Orbit has simply commenced its first correct launch marketing campaign, transporting its orbital check rocket to the Mojave Air and Area Port in September to conduct a last sequence of check-outs and engineering demonstrations. Within the coming weeks, the corporate will transfer swiftly by way of these workout routines, main as much as a captive carry flight previous to LauncherOne’s maiden flight to low Earth orbit.

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