It was a much anticipated orbit! After a first failure in May 2020, Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne missile successfully reached low earth orbit on its second flight on 17 January 2021.
Early in the afternoon, US West Coast Time, the 17 January, a Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl took off from a spaceport in Mojave, in California, carrying a small LauncherOne missile under its left wing. One hour after the plane took off, the rocket detached from the Cosmic Girl and the NewtonThree engine successfully launched its first stage, propelling the LauncherOne into space after three minutes of operation, the first stage engine giving way to the second stage of the NewtonFour engine, which lasted about six minutes.
At an altitude of about 500 km, LauncherOne payload has been deployed. Unlike the May flight 2020, which ended in failure just seconds after the deployment of Cosmic Girl, the second LauncherOne flight did not carry test ballast, but real satellites. We understand very well what was at stake for Virgin Orbit during this trip!
It's total, LauncherOne has deployed around ten CubeSats, which are standard nanosatellites supposed to represent a significant share of the light launch market, and which Virgin Orbit hopes to dominate in the years to come. These 10 satellites were launched under the auspices of NASA and were designed by eight different universities and an engineering center affiliated with the United States Space Agency which take with them many scientific experiments and various technological demonstrations.
LauncherOne was originally a project of another subsidiary of the Virgin group, and is well known to Clubic readers: Virgin Galactic If the latter developed a safe and economical way to transport tourists on suborbital journeys to the limits of space, the company announced in 2012 his intention Development of a small orbital launcher
Ensuite, LauncherOne was shot from WhiteKnight Two, a custom vehicle designed for the manned spacecraft of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two., in 2017, the manned program and the orbital program split into two distinct societies
Virgin Orbit signs several contracts with US government agencies (including NASA) and private clients, and the old Boeing 747 of Virgin Atlantic becomes the new missile carrier
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Rocket, Virgin Galactic, LauncherOne, Virgin Group, Launch Vehicle, Richard Branson
News – WITH – Virgin Orbit comes to space for the first time with its LauncherOne rocket