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 Sunday with a successful test of its air-launched rocket, delivering ten NASA satellites into orbit and hitting a key milestone after stopping the first test launch of the rocket 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 35,000 feet above the Pacific at 11:39 am PT before firing its NewtonThree engine to exit Earth’s atmosphere, demonstrating its first successful journey into space.

“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.” About two hours after his Cosmic Girl spacecraft took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in Southern California, the rocket, a 70-foot launcher tailored to transport small satellites into space, successfully placed 10 tiny satellites in orbit for NASA, the company said on Twitter.

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 clean payload implementation was a necessary double win for Virgin Orbit, which last year did not attempt to reach space when LauncherOne’s main engine prematurely shut down moments after release. from his transport plane. The shortened mission generated key test data for the company, he said.

Sunday’s test also propels Virgin Orbit into an increasingly competitive commercial space race, offering a unique “air launch” method to send satellites into orbit alongside rivals such as Rocket Lab and Firefly Aerospace, which have designed small launch systems to inject smaller satellites in orbit and meets the growing demand. 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.

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:

  • The California-based Long Beach LauncherOne rocket was launched in mid-air from the underside of a modified Boeing 747 dubbed Cosmic Girl about 35,000 feet above the Pacific at 11:39 am PT before firing its NewtonThree engine to exit Earth’s atmosphere, demonstrating its first successful journey into space. “According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” the company announced the Twitter during the test mission, dubbed Launch Demo 2.
  • Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space with a missile launch in mid-air