Virgin Orbit Gears up for Second Go at Unique Rocket Launch
It may sound like a crazy idea to launch a space rocket by firing it under the wing of a Boeing 747 jet, but that’s exactly what Virgin Orbit is planning.
In fact, the company achieved the feat back in May last year, although the rocket did not go into orbit as planned on that occasion.
Since then, Virgin Orbit has been refining its systems ahead of a second attempt scheduled for Sunday, January 10th.
The work is part of Virgin Orbit’s ongoing efforts to launch a commercial small satellite launch business.
The Launch Demo 2 test mission on Sunday was supposed to take place in December 2020, but has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Now, however, Virgin Orbit is confident that enough measures are in place to safely resume the launch in a few days.
“Now that all major pre-launch testing has been completed, we’re on our way through our final reviews, reviews, and readiness discussions,” the company said in a tweet, adding, “It’s been a busy start to the year We are.” are focused and excited to be flying into space soon! “
After all of the major pre-launch tests are completed, let’s head for our final reviews, reviews, and readiness discussions.
It’s a busy start to the year, but we’re focused and excited to be headed into space soon!
– Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) January 5, 2021
The starting window will be open on January 10th from 10am to 2pm. The modified Boeing 747 takes off from Virgin Orbit’s base in California’s Mojave Desert before sailing across the Pacific. This is where the 70-foot LauncherOne missile is ignited.
The mission won’t be broadcast live, but the team has promised to tweet real-time updates during the mission.
The launch of Demo 2 is especially important as the rocket will carry its first payload, which will contain a set of cubesats for NASA.
Virgin Orbit’s first attempt to launch its LauncherOne rocket ended seconds after launch when an anomaly occurred with the Booster’s first stage NewtonThree motor that caused an automatic shutdown. An investigation revealed that the fault was caused by a problem with the fuel line that has since been resolved.
Despite the hiccups, the mission gave the team tons of useful data while also demonstrating the reliability of other parts of the operation.
“In our first launch demo, we demonstrated the entire pre-launch sequence, flyout, missile separation and engineless flight, engine launch and first stage powered flight,” the company said recently, adding that the team “is cheered to do it.” build up. ” Steps and demonstrate the rest of the missile system, including our upper tier. Again, we are ready to collect terabytes of data from LauncherOne on the fly in order to further improve our knowledge and to prove the capabilities of our system. “
If Virgin Orbit manages to launch a functioning commercial service in the coming years, its satellite launch system will compete with similar services such as SpaceX and Rocket Lab, which perform deployments via more conventional ground-based rocket launches. Virgin Orbit said the air launch system will provide a global network of spaceports to provide more options for launching a mission to companies looking to deploy small satellites.