Virgin Orbit Holdings launched satellites for three customers as the newly public company prepares to expand operations outside the US later this year.
Virgin’s Boeing Company 747 aircraft departed at 1.39pm PST on Thursday in Mojave, California.
It then released the 21-metre Launcher One rocket carrying seven small satellites at 2.53pm about 9.1 kilometres over the Pacific Ocean - roughly 80 kilometres south-west of the Channel Islands.
Virgin Orbit said on its webcast that the rocket performed normally during its ascent.
The company's shares rose 3.7 per cent to $9.75 in late trading after the rocket’s launch.
The payload consists of satellites for the US Defence Department and Colorado-based Spire Global Incorporated as well as two nanosatellites for SatRevolution, a manufacturer based in Wroclaw, Poland. They will orbit at an altitude of 500km.
Virgin Orbit, founded by Richard Branson, is aiming to carry out five more missions this year, including two in the summer from Cornwall, UK, which will be the company’s first international foray.
The company plans to launch from Japan as soon as 2023 and to eventually make flights from Guam and Brazil.
The latest mission was named “Above the Clouds” after a song on the Gang Starr album Moment of Truth, released in 1998 by Virgin Records.