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Virgin Orbit to launch SITAEL satellite

With Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne, SITAEL will launch its μHETsat, a technical demonstration of a new electric propulsion system for ESA and ASI

Virgin Orbit was selected to launch a SITAEL satellite developed in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). Virgin Orbit and SITAEL signed a launch service agreement at the 31st AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellite.

 

With Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne, SITAEL will launch its μHETsat, a technical demonstration of a new electric propulsion system for ESA and ASI. Established in 1994 and headquartered in Mola di Bari, Italy, SITAEL is the largest privately-owned space company in Italy and provides Small Satellites based turn-key solutions, from mission concept to satellite in-Orbit commissioning.

 

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne is a simple, expendable, launch vehicle designed to place small satellites of up to 500 kg / 1100 lbm into a wide range of Low Earth Orbits (LEO) at an affordable price. Rather than launching from ground level, LauncherOne is carried to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet by the 747-400 carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl.

 

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said: “Opening access to space is an incredible opportunity to bring together governments around the world with commercial enterprises. Virgin Orbit is proud to apply our commercial solutions and innovation with SITAEL to support the European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency. Collaborative efforts like ours will enable cost-effective access to low earth orbit missions and beyond”.

 

SITAEL Chief Executive Officer Nicola Zaccheo said: “As a Small satellite customer, we are very excited for our innovative SITAEL technologies to get the flexibility and service of a primary payload on a dedicated small launch vehicle by Virgin Orbit. The satellite, developed in partnership with Italian Space Agency and European Space Agency, is the first all-electric micro satellite ever in space, validating both the SITAEL bus (S-75 platform) and SITAEL low power Hall Effect Thruster (HT100). SITAEL is pleased to take advantage of Virgin Orbit’s unique capabilities”.

Source: Sitael SpA