Space Systems Command and Long Beach-based Virgin Orbit National Systems, a US-incorporated, wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Orbit, successfully air-launched seven Department of Defense Research and Development satellites for the U.S. Space Force on the company’s LauncherOne rocket, after taking off Friday evening from Mojave Air and Space Port, California.

The nighttime mission, designated STP-S28A, demonstrated commercially available solutions to place Space Force satellite capabilities on-orbit, providing flexibility and resiliency for the Space Force and warfighter requirements in an increasingly contested environment.

“Congratulations to the STP team and our mission partners on today’s successful launch,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy Sejba, program executive officer for Space Domain and Combat Power, which manages the DoD Space Test Program. “The STP team continues to demonstrate how agile access to space enables us to quickly and affordably prove out new R&D technology on-orbit, accelerating the development of our future, more resilient, space architecture.”

“I’m thrilled with today’s successful launch,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Shea, director of the DoD Space Test Program. “Cost effective space access is key to the U.S. Space Force’s pivot to a more resilient space architecture. This launch with Virgin Orbit exemplifies SSC’s commitment to expanding partnerships with innovative companies and accelerating the delivery of future capabilities for the Warfighter.”

According to Shea, these new space vehicles will contribute to the nation’s defense and gain ground against any adversaries operating in the highly contested space domain.

Space Systems Command, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Space Force field command responsible for rapidly developing, acquiring, equipping, fielding and sustaining lethal and resilient space capabilities. SSC mission capability areas include launch acquisition and operations, communications and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), space sensing, battle management command, control and communications (BMC3), and space domain awareness & combat power.