Virgin Orbit successfully launches a rocket into space using its Boeing 747

For a long time, Virgin has been working on its Virgin Orbit project, which for the first time has managed to get into orbit from an airplane.

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January 19, 2021 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Virgin Orbit has fulfilled its mission and achieved the most anticipated launch after months of testing, which managed to put its nine satellites into orbit from its Boeing 747 . Richard Branson’s company performed such a feat on Sunday morning, when Cosmic Girl took off from a base from California .

LauncherOne is the spacecraft, which was mounted on one of the wings of the Boeing 747, which would take nine nanosatellites from NASA’s educational program into space. Cosmic Girl took her flight over the Pacific Ocean at more than 10,500 km altitude before starting the countdown for the launch of the aerospace spacecraft.

Four hours after it was launched, Virgin claimed through its Twitter account that the satellites were successfully deployed in orbit, fulfilling their mission.

@Virgin_Orbit via Twitter

“Today’s sequence of events for LaunchDemo2 went exactly as planned, from the safe execution of our ground operations to the successful full-duration burns on both engines. To say we’re excited would be an understatement, but 240 characters couldn’t do it justice anyway, ” Virgin Orbit said.

@Virgin_Orbit via Twitter

That said, of the nine satellites placed in orbit, one of these will be the one studying how tiny particles collide in space, another will serve as an experimental radiation-sensing satellite, and another will monitor temperature. All of these were developed by three US universities.

What made the difference in the Virgin Orbit launch?

It should be noted that Virgin Orbit is already part of the select group of companies dedicated to the development and launch of rockets, such as the two famous aerospace companies, SpaceX and Rocket Lab. However, Virgin’s difference was that it threw its rocket from the air and not from a platform on the ground.

@Virgin_Orbit via Twitter

The Boeing 747-400, Cosmic Girl , a transformed aircraft that serves to load the spacecraft under one of its wings, was used for testing in mid-2019, since then it had been the first test that gave successful results. as for the airdrop, over the Mojave Desert , California , whose LauncherOne managed to separate completely and loaded from the wing, but it plummeted.

After months of tweaking, fixing and modifying, Virgin Orbit was set for a real launch in May last year, although not everything turned out as expected. Unfortunately, the mission ended very quickly due to a failure in the spacecraft at the start of the flight.

Virgin Orbit is expected to prepare more satellites from other customers for future launches. Richard Branson said that he, along with other investors, provided approximately $ 1 billion in order to get Virgin Orbit to place satellites in orbit and the goal could be met.

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