Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit enters space on the second attempt

Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit first reached space on Sunday with a successful test of its airplane-launched rocket. It put ten NASA satellites into orbit and reached a major milestone after the rocket’s first test launch was canceled last year.

The Long Beach, Calif.-Based company’s LauncherOne missile was dropped in the air from the underside of a modified Boeing 747, nicknamed Cosmic Girl, approximately 35,000 feet above the Pacific at 11:39 a.m. (1:09 a.m.) before that the NewtonThree engine was ignited to boost itself from the earth’s atmosphere and demonstrated its first successful path into space.

“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” The company announced on Twitter during the test mission, which was dubbed Launch Demo 2. “Both literally and figuratively, this is way beyond how far we got in our first launch demo.”

About two hours after the Cosmic Girl aircraft took off from Mojave Air and Spaceport in Southern California, the rocket, a 70-foot launcher tailored to transport small satellites into space, successfully placed 10 tiny satellites into NASA’s orbit , the company said on Twitter.

The rocket, a 70-foot launcher tailored to transport small satellites into space, was aimed at putting 10 tiny satellites into orbit for NASA about two hours after the mission began, although Virgin orbit has not been confirmed had whether they were used as planned.

The successful test and clean payload delivery was a necessary one-two for Virgin Orbit, which failed its attempt to get into space last year when the LauncherOne main engine was shut down prematurely shortly after being released from its carrier aircraft. The shortened mission generated important test data for the company.

Sunday’s test also puts Virgin Orbit in an increasingly competitive commercial space race, offering a unique “air launch” method that allows satellites to orbit along with competitors such as Rocket Lab and Firefly Aerospace, the small launch systems for the injection of smaller ones Satellites have evolved orbiting and meet growing demand.

Virgin executives say high altitude launches allow satellites to be more efficiently placed in their intended orbit and minimize weather-related cancellations compared to traditional rockets launched vertically from a field on the ground.

Virgin Orbit’s government services subsidiary, VOX Space LLC, is selling launches with the system to the U.S. military. A first mission is planned for October under a US Space Force contract for three missions worth US $ 35 million (approximately 250 million rupees).

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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