Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space with a missile launch in mid-air

Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space for the first time on Sunday with a successful test of its air-launched rocket, hitting a key milestone after stopping the rocket’s first test launch last year. The California-based Long Beach LauncherOne rocket was launched in mid-air from the underside of a modified Boeing 747 dubbed Cosmic Girl about 40,000 feet above the Pacific at 11:39 am PT before turning on its NewtonThree engine to exit Earth’s atmosphere.

“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” the company announced the Twitter during the test mission, dubbed Launch Demo 2. “In both literal and figurative sense, this is much further than we got in our first launch demo.” The rocket, a 70-foot launcher tailored to transport small satellites into space, aimed to place 10 tiny satellites in orbit for NASA about two hours into the mission, although Virgin Orbit had not confirmed whether they were deployed as intended. .

The successful test and potentially clean payload implementation would be a necessary double win for Virgin Orbit, which last year failed its attempt to reach space when LauncherOne’s main engine prematurely shut down moments after the release. from his transport plane. The shortened mission generated key test data for the company, he said. The Cosmic Girl’s transport aircraft had taken off from Sunday morning a runway at Mojave Air and Space Port in Southern California under clear skies, bringing LauncherOne to target altitude for launch.

The Launch Demo 2 mission was intended to “improve our knowledge and demonstrate all the capabilities of LauncherOne,” the company wrote on Twitter Sunday. Virgin executives say high-altitude launches allow satellites to be positioned in their intended orbit more efficiently and also minimize weather-related cancellations than more traditional vertically launched rockets. from a ground base.

Competition is fierce between Virgin Orbit, Firefly, and the US and New Zealand company Rocket Lab, which are designing smaller or non-traditional systems to inject smaller satellites into orbit and meet growing demand. VOX Space LLC, a subsidiary of Virgin Orbit’s government services, is selling launches using the system to the US military, with a first mission scheduled for October with a US Space Force $ 35 million contract for three missions.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

News Highlights:

  • “Both literally and figuratively, this is much farther than we got in our first launch demo.” The rocket, a 70-foot launcher tailored to transport small satellites into space, aimed to place 10 tiny satellites in orbit for NASA about two hours into the mission, although Virgin Orbit had not confirmed whether they were deployed as intended. . The successful test and potentially clean payload implementation would be a necessary double win for Virgin Orbit, which last year failed its attempt to reach space when LauncherOne’s main engine prematurely shut down moments after the release. from his transport plane.
  • Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space with a missile launch in mid-air