Satellite launch by Naval Research Lab readied with U.K. defense agencyNews
November 18, 2022
WASHINGTON. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) oversaw the delivery and preparation for launch of its twin 6U CubeSat satellites during mid-October at Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay in southwest England.
The Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction CubeSat Experiment (CIRCE) satellites are scheduled for manifest aboard Virgin Orbit, which aims to launch its first satellite in late 2022. CIRCE is a joint NRL-United Kingdom Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) experiment designed to measure the earth’s ionosphere and particle radiation environment from a circular orbit at 555 km (344 miles) altitude in a lead/trail formation 300 to 500 km (186 to 310 miles) apart in the same orbit plane.
Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket takes off horizontally, carried aloft by a modified Boeing 747 jet, which is intended to cut the cost of opportunities for space access.
The CIRCE mission is intended to help researchers better understand how the ionosphere is constantly changing, which the Navy deems important, particularly with respect to military over-the-horizon communications and radar.