VOX Space signs deal to fly LauncherOne from Andersen Air Force base in Guam

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VOX says launching from Guam allows LauncherOne to serve all orbital inclinations.

WASHINGTON — VOX Space, the Virgin Orbit subsidiary focused on the national security market, has signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force that allows the company’s LauncherOne to fly missions from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

VOX Space President Mandy Vaughn and U.S. Air Force 36th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Gentry Boswell signed last month what is known as a Commercial Space Operations Support Agreement, the company announced May 7.

The U.S. Air Force last year agreed to let VOX launch the STP-27VP mission from the Pacific island of Guam. Under the new agreement, VOX will get access to the launch site on Andersen Air Force Base for future missions as well.

The DoD Space Test Program STP-27VP was awarded to VOX in 2017 and was scheduled to launch in 2019 but has been pushed out by LauncherOne test schedule delays and the coronavirus outbreak in Guam. STP-27VP will carry several experimental cubesats from various government agencies.

Virgin Orbit Vice President Will Pomerantz said the company set sight on Guam a year ago after it concluded that LauncherOne from that location could serve all orbital inclinations.

“Due to its geography and all that entails, Guam is a highly valuable new launch site for government missions,” he told SpaceNews. “It’s got an attractive latitude, open launch azimuths in almost every desirable direction, and other points of strategic relevance. Bringing a new launch site online always takes a good amount of collaboration, and we’re thrilled by the incredible response we’ve gotten from Pacific Air Forces, Andersen, DoD and from local officials in Guam.”

Pomerantz said the launch of STP-27VP has not yet been scheduled. “Things are a bit up in the air because of the COVID-19 situation,” he said. “Guam has been particularly impacted by the virus.” The company also has to complete LauncherOne’s testing. A date for the vehicle’s first flight has not yet been set.