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Fri Oct 11, 2019, 06:41 PM

Virgin Orbit Could Launch Polish Cubesat Mission to Mars in 2022

By Mike Wall 12 hours ago Spaceflight

The little craft will be developed by Polish scientists.

Virgin Orbitís LauncherOne rocket falls away from its carrier plane during the companyís first-ever
drop test on July 10, 2019.(Image: © Virgin Orbit via Twitter)

Polish scientists are developing a first-of-its-kind cubesat mission to Mars that could launch as early as 2022.

The Poland-based satellite company SatRevolution, researchers from multiple Polish universities, and Richard Branson's launch company Virgin Orbit have formed a consortium that aims to send a tiny spacecraft to the Red Planet in the next few years.

The mission will follow in the footsteps of NASA's twin MarCO (Mars Cube One) craft, the first-ever interplanetary cubesats. Those briefcase-sized probes flew by Mars in November 2018, beaming home data about the touchdown of the agency's InSight lander. But the Polish effort will break new ground with its commercial component, project team members said.

"This mission will galvanize the Polish space sector and mark its position on the international arena," SatRevolution co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Grzegorz Zwoliński said in a statement yesterday (Oct. 9). "The project will accelerate the development of small satellites and of lightweight space science instrument technology. We want Poland to be 'the go-to' country for small interplanetary spacecraft."


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