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Space & Astronomy

Virgin Orbit debut rocket launch ends in failure

By T.K. Randall
May 26, 2020 · Comment icon 5 comments

The rocket was successfully released by the plane. Image Credit: Twitter / Virgin Orbit
Sir Richard Branson's new satellite launching company didn't have much luck with its debut flight yesterday.
Running parallel to Virgin Galactic's space tourism endeavours, Virgin Orbit aims to capitalize on the rapidly increasing demand for low-cost satellite launches into Earth's orbit.

To achieve this, the company has developed a special air-launched rocket that is carried up to 35,000ft by a modified Boeing 747 airliner before being released.

Yesterday's test flight saw the rocket, which is known as LauncherOne, successfully achieve stability before igniting its NewtonThree engine to begin propelling it up towards the edge of space.

Unfortunately however things didn't go quite to plan and the rocket failed to gain much altitude.
"LauncherOne maintained stability after release, and we ignited our first-stage engine, NewtonThree," the company wrote. "An anomaly then occurred early in first-stage flight."

"We'll learn more as our engineers analyse the mountain of data we collected today."

Debut test flights tend to have a poor success rate, meaning that the rocket's failure wasn't particularly unexpected. Still, the firm will be keen to figure out what went wrong and set things up for another test.

"Test flights are instrumented to yield data and we now have a treasure trove of that," said CEO Dan Hart. "We accomplished many of the goals we set for ourselves, though not as many as we would have liked. Nevertheless, we took a big step forward today."

"Our engineers are already poring through the data. Our next rocket is waiting. We will learn, adjust, and begin preparing for our next test, which is coming up soon."

Source: BBC News | Comments (5)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by freetoroam 4 years ago
Oh well, roll on LauncherTwo. How is Branson  doing now, did he get his taxpayers loan then?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
doh ! At least it ignited and not just blown up.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Manwon Lender 4 years ago
Well like they said, the date form failure will be invaluable and most likely their next mission will succeed, thanks for sharing Bot. Peace
Comment icon #4 Posted by the13bats 4 years ago
I havent a clue why this reminded me of Evel Knievel tying to jump the snake river in a rocket in 74.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
50% of all maiden launches fail. The first Ariane failed, as did the first Ariane 5. Arianespace is now one of the most successful commercial launch companies in the world and the Ariane 5 one of the most reliable launch vehicles. The first 4 SpaceX launches ended in failure, the company was close to going bankrupt, look where they are now. The loss of this the first LauncherOne will be a set back, but not an unexpected one. It was flying with an inert mass instead of a payload just in case of such an eventuality

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