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Virgin Orbit Satellite-Launching Plane To Take Off From Guam

Associated Press/Lynne Sladky

HONOLULU — A company owned by British billionaire Richard Branson is picking Guam as a site for its airplane-launched satellite service.

Virgin Orbit plans to launch small satellites from a rocket released by a customized Boeing 747. It has another site in California.

The company said Thursday the U.S. Air Force will allow it to take off from the U.S. territory's Anderson Air Force Base. Guam's international airport is seeking a Federal Aviation Administration license to host launches.

Payloads will weigh up to 450 kilograms (1,000 pounds) and orbit the equator at an altitude of about 500 kilometers (310 miles).

The satellites will be for communications, research and other uses. The U.S. military is expected to be a customer.

Late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen started a company that will perform similar launches.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. Founded in 1846, AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
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