Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit Fails With First Rocket Launch Attempt
The rocket was supposed to be launched into space from a 747
The first attempt by Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit to send a rocket into space by launching it from a modified 747 was cut short after an undisclosed problem on Monday.
The jet, dubbed Cosmic Girl, took off from Mojave Air and Space Port and flew west over the Pacific Ocean and reached an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before dropping the 70-foot-long LauncherOne rocket. ““We’ve confirmed a clean release from the aircraft. However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight. Cosmic Girl and our flight crew are safe and returning to base,” the company said in a statement.
LauncherOne maintained stability after release, and we ignited our first stage engine, NewtonThree. An anomaly then occurred early in first stage flight. We'll learn more as our engineers analyze the mountain of data we collected today.
— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) May 25, 2020
Will Pomerantz, Virgin Orbit’s vice president for special projects, noted during a preflight briefing that about half of first-attempt rocket launches fail. “History is not terribly kind, necessarily, to maiden flights,” he said.
Though the mission was a failure, Virgin Orbit noted that it will be able to learn from its mistakes, thanks to new data it was able to collect from the attempt. “The team’s already hard at work digging into the data, and we’re eager to hop into our next big test ASAP,” the company tweeted. “Thankfully, instead of waiting until after our 1st flight to tackle our 2nd rocket, we’ve already completed a ton of work to get us back in the air and keep moving forward.”
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