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Virgin Orbit test rocket fails on first launch

Posted on 26 May 2020 and read 601 times
Virgin Orbit test rocket fails on first launchSir Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit company yesterday launched a rocket over the Pacific Ocean with limited success.

The company conducted a launch demonstration yesterday in the skies over the Pacific Ocean just off the California coast. After completing all of its pre-launch procedures and releasing from the carrier aircraft, the LauncherOne rocket successfully lighted its booster engine on cue — the first time the company had attempted an in-air ignition. An anomaly then occurred early in first stage flight, and the mission had to be abruptly terminated. The carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl and all of its crew landed safely at Mojave Air and Space Port.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart, said: “Our team performed their pre-launch and flight operations with incredible skill. Test flights are instrumented to yield data and we now have a treasure trove of that. We accomplished many of the goals we set for ourselves, though not as many as we would have liked.”

“Nevertheless, we took a big step forward. Our engineers are already poring through the data. Our next rocket is waiting and we will learn, adjust, and begin preparing for our next test, which is coming up soon.”

The company’s next rocket is in final stages of integration at its Long Beach manufacturing facility, with six other rockets for subsequent missions not far behind — the ultimate goal is to capture a share of the emerging market for the low-cost launch of small satellites.

Virgin Orbit’s decision to begin production of multiple rockets well in advance of this test flight will enable the team to progress to the next attempt at a significantly faster pace, shortly after making any necessary modifications to the launch system.

Picture courtesy of Virgin Orbital