On Tuesday, Virgin Orbit, a Southern California-based company, announced that it had inked an agreement with Polish Company to launch a constellation later in the year. This is less than a month after the Virgin Orbit launched its first LauncherOne rocket successfully.
Virgin Orbit said that the two satellites’ launch would add up to 14-satellite Earth observation constellation, which will help gather data and images to be used in agriculture and energy industries in Poland and the US. SatRevolution is planning to have a constellation of over one thousand satellites in LEO by 2026. These satellites would help to observe, providing data and information to various industries.
Recently, Innovative Solutions in Space, a Dutch Company, choose Virgin Orbit to launch its first satellite known as Royal Netherlands Air Force. The satellite will be used for communication purposes, and illustrating those small satellites are essential for military use.
Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Orbit. The company used it’s reformed Boeing 747-400 jet to move the LauncherOne rocket into high altitudes. The rocket was delivered from the bottom of the wing and burned its motor.
Many companies have been committed to placing their constellations into low Earth orbit to offer various solutions, such as providing data and information to be used by consumers, businesses, and policymakers. The increase in the satellite in LEO has caused overcrowding in the thermosphere. The first company to have many commercial LEO satellites is SpaceX. SpaceX launched its first Starlink satellite in 2018, and then from there, other companies have placed their small satellites into low Earth orbit.
The satellites are also used to study space weather. For instance, Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD), NASA’s newest mission, tells how the Earth’s atmosphere’s upper edges influence space weather. GOLD was carried into geostationary orbit in 2018, and it started regular observations last year in October. The satellite helps to observe airglow in the full Earth’s circle after 30 minutes. The instrument makes use of the starlight when the star passes behind the Earth to quantify the oxygen density in the air at various altitudes depending on the light it holds.
Gold also helps to gather the readings of different valuable temperatures and observe oxygen to molecular nitrogen ratio. It is essential to note that the properties of oxygen and molecular nitrogen adjust during geomagnetic storms. It is expected that GOLD’s observations would be of great help to scientists as they will help them develop superior thermosphere models.