Satellite built by Open Cosmos for the RHEA Group to fly on Virgin Orbit's maiden UK flight, following record breaking four month development


pen Cosmos is a world leading space company, simplifying access to space in order to solve the world’s biggest challenges, such as the climate emergency, sustainable use of natural resources and energy.

  • The DOVER-Pathfinder satellite, designed and built by Open Cosmos for the RHEA Group, will be onboard Virgin Orbit’s historic LauncherOne flight - the first ever launch to take place from UK soil!
  • Integrating the navigation payload designed by RHEA, Open Cosmos was able to deliver the RHEA DOVER-Pathfinder satellite in record time: only four months from contract signature to delivery on the launch site.  

Harwell, 9th January 2023: A satellite built in record time by leading SpaceTech Open Cosmos for the RHEA Group will be launched into space as part of the UK’s first-ever space launch today.

The RHEA DOVER-Pathfinder Mission’s 3U Cubesat is built by Open Cosmos and features a navigation payload designed in partnership with the RHEA Group. Named after the Dover Strait, the narrowest part of the English Channel known to possess the densest shipping lanes, the satellite will serve as a pathfinder for resilient global navigation. Working closely with RHEA on the initial design, Open Cosmos was able to complete the manufacturing and testing within four months. Combined with responsive launch, this brings the timeline from first iteration with the customer to the mission launch down by several  months, even for a satellite project which is first of its kind.

A UK mission enabled through the UK-ESA partnership

The RHEA DOVER-Pathfinder is a perfect example of UK collaboration made possible by the European Space Agency (ESA). The mission was designed by RHEA’s UK team with the satellite built by Open Cosmos at the Harwell campus in Oxford. The mission has been co-funded by the RHEA Group, Open Cosmos and the UK Space Agency through ESA’s Navigation Programme (NAVISP) Element 2, which supports innovation and competitiveness for position, navigation and timing (PNT). Accurate PNT is necessary to run and maintain critical infrastructure including transport, energy, finance and data centres.

The RHEA DOVER-Pathfinder satellite will fly aboard Virgin Orbit’s first launch from Spaceport Cornwall later this year. The first ever orbital launch from UK soil also marks Virgin Orbit's first flight outside the US and LauncherOne’s fifth consecutive mission carrying commercial and government customers since beginning operations in 2021.

Florian Deconinck, Vice President of Growth at Open Cosmos, said

“This satellite represents the collaborative strength of the UK and ESA. From contract to launch, we were able to work closely with RHEA and Virgin Orbit to deliver this mission in record time of less than a year, with very reactive support from the UK Space Agency and ESA-NAVISP teams. We hope this pathfinder will be the first of many more”

Alex Megias, Co-Founder and VP of Operations at Open Cosmos, said

“This is truly a special moment for the whole team at Open Cosmos. We have worked with the RHEA Group on a satellite that has been manufactured, launched and will be operated all from our site in Harwell.We created Open Cosmos to democratise access to space, delivering satellite missions and data to organisations, companies and governments to solve the world’s biggest challenges.”

Emma Jones, UK Business Director added,

“RHEA is very excited to be launching its first satellite DOVER Pathfinder from UK soil. During the process we have worked with some amazing people, and it demonstrates the innovation, collaboration and determination of both the UK and European space sectors. DOVER is a unique pathfinder mission, and I wish Virgin Orbit and all other companies with payloads on this inaugural flight success with their missions.”


Harry Ashcroft /

About Open Cosmos

Open Cosmos is a business focused on solving the world's biggest challenges through the delivery of satellite missions and the data of the world they can gather from space. This includes designing, building, launching and operating small satellites as well as providing data and services through an innovative platform. Since its creation in 2015, it has developed multiple advanced satellites for telecommunications, earth observation, navigation and science. The company is on a high growth path with presence in the UK, Spain, France and soon Portugal. For more information visit, our Twitter and LinkedIn.

About RHEA Group

RHEA Group is a privately-owned professional engineering and solutions company, providing bespoke engineering solutions, system development and security services for space, military, government and other critical infrastructures. Since its creation in 1992, RHEA has built a reputation as a trusted partner, developing tailored solutions that help drive organizational and cultural initiatives, leading to sustainable added value for its customers. Headquartered in Belgium, RHEA Group employs over 750 people and has offices in Belgium, UK, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Canada, and works at client premises throughout Europe and North America. RHEA is ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified.