Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket suffers failure in UK


Virgin Orbit’s strange Boeing 747 – known as “Cosmic Girl” – took off on Monday from Newquay in Cornwall, England. 245 miles west of London, in the first launch to the country from British soil. But almost two hours after the plane left the ground And the rocket fired its engines to hurtle toward space, Virgin Orbit discovered that the launch was a failure.

“LauncherOne appears to have suffered an anomaly that prevented us from orbiting this mission,” said Christopher Ralph, director of Systems Engineering and Verification for Virgin Orbit, on Virgin Orbit’s live coverage of the launch. LauncherOne is the name of the air-launched rocket that was hitched a ride Under the wing of the Cosmic Girl plane.

No people, only satellites, were aboard the rocket, which initially appeared to be launched from the 747 without a problem. Rife confirmed earlier that the rocket’s second stage is orbiting, preparing to ignite its engine for a second burn. But later found out it didn’t go as planned.

“We are examining the information and data we received,” he added. “And we will be Back with you in a moment with more.”

Tracking tweet Virgin Orbit echoed Ralph’s comments, reading, “It looks like we had an anomaly that prevented us from reaching orbit. We’re looking into the information.”

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Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl plane and crew did return safely to the ground after Monday’s launch, the company confirmed in its live broadcast.

The company’s stock, which had already fallen by almost 9% during trading hours on Monday, fell another 28% after business hours. As of 8:00 PM ET, the price was just $1.40 per share.

Monday’s event was giving directions Marking the first successful launch from the UK, although technically the rocket is scheduled to launch while Cosmic Girl is in flight.

The refurbished Boeing 747 flies at an altitude of about 35,000 feet (10.7 kilometers) before release God A rocket strapped under her wings.

Virgin Orbit is expected to LauncherOne travel between 310 and 745 miles (499 and 1199 km) above Earth’s surface and then release nine satellites into low Earth orbit.

It was not immediately clear what caused the rocket to fail.

The launch is intended to be the first for Virgin Orbit – a subsidiary of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group – of commercial satellites from Western Europe, and the first launch for Virgin Orbit outside the United States.

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Since January 2021, the US-based company has conducted four successful launches from the Mojave Desert in California. The company has Also experienced one failure before. Virgin Orbit’s first launch attempt from California in May 2020 Failed due to engine problem.

Ahead of the flight, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart described the UK mission as a “historic endeavour”.

“This launch represents the opening of a new era in the British space industry and new partnerships between industry, government and allies,” he said in a statement released on Friday.

A refurbished Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 carries Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket.

The satellites on board Monday were owned by seven customers, including private companies and government agencies. Among other things, the satellites were supposed to be used to prevent illegal trade, smuggling and terrorism, the company said in Friday’s news release, as well as to reduce the environmental impact of production.

The mission, named “Start Me Up” after the Rolling Stones’ 1981 song, was a joint venture between Virgin Orbit, the British Space Agency, the local government of Cornwall and Britain’s Royal Air Force.

The launch was expected to mark a major milestone in the UK’s growing commercial satellite sector.

The country has been working on commercial spaceports for several years in an attempt to grab a bigger share of the fast-growing global space market, which Morgan Stanley estimates could be worth more than $1 trillion by 2040.

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The country’s £16.5 billion ($20 billion) space industry directly supported about 47,000 jobs between 2019 and 2020, according to the latest government figures.

Ian Annett, deputy director general of the British Space Agency, said on Friday that the launch marked a “new era” for the UK space industry. [it] On the map as the leading destination in Europe for the commercial launch of a small satellite.”

“The development of new orbital launch capabilities is already generating growth, spurring investment and job creation in Cornwall and other communities across the UK,” he added.

The small satellite launch industry is a growing business worldwide, but especially in the United States. Virgin Orbit was one of the first in a long list of startups trying to create small rockets that could deliver light satellites into orbit quickly and cheaply – grows up A business model that has dozens of global competitors. But the industry is also notoriously volatile. Other small rocket startups have also suffered setbacks in recent months and years, including US companies such as Firefly and Astra.


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