The Virgin Orbit company failed on Monday in its first attempt to launch a rocket from a plane at 10,000 meters altitude, the company announced. On this test flight, it was planned that, after taking off from the aircraft carrying it, the rocket would be propelled into Earth orbit. However, it failed due to failure. “The mission ended shortly after the flight started, ” Virgin Orbit said on Twitter. This young space company, founded in 2012 by British millionaire Richard Branson, seeks to offer a flexible and fast launch service to operators of small satellites (300 to 500 kilos), a rapidly growing market.
The Virgin Orbit rocket, 21 meters long and dubbed LauncherOne, is not designed to rise upright, but is tied to the bottom of a wing of the Cosmic Girl, a converted Boeing 747. When the operation reaches the required height , the plane releases the rocket, which propels itself by starting its own engine, and goes up to Earth’s orbit to drop its cargo in space. The initial phase of the trial worked after Cosmic Girl took off from the Mojave Desert Airport, where several area companies are based.
The plane flew to the destination area to launch the rocket into the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Los Angeles. “We have confirmed a clean release from the plane,” he added three minutes later, but noted that the mission was over. Hours later, the company gave more details. “LauncherOne maintained stability after launch, and we started the engine on the first floor, NewtonThree. Then an anomaly occurred in the first phase of the flight. We will know more as our engineers analyze the mountain of data we collected today. ” Before the test flight, the firm had emphasized that the mission was “the most technically complex thing” it had tried to achieve thus far.