After an unsuccessful attempt, Virgin Orbit finally succeeded after eight months to launch an innovative air-launch system that enabled them to put ten satellites in orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system uses the concept that was founded 17 years ago by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The Virgin Orbit launch concept was the winner of SpaceShipOne and prize money of $10 million in 2004. This plays an important role for LauncherOne rocket but also for Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo system and the Stratolaunch venture that was founded in 2011 by Allen.
The modified Boeing 747 jet that has been named Cosmic Girl served as the flying launchpad for the LauncherOne Rocket.
When the rocket launch flight test was attempted last May, the first stage NewtonThree engine of the rocket lit up just for a few seconds. A breach was found in the propellant system and this caused the shutdown of the system. However, during the rocket launch test eight months later, no such problems arose.
The rocket began its journey from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave and then flew over the Pacific. The rocket for engine ignition was released at 11.39 a.m.
The rocket fired the first stage engine initially. Then it went through the process of stage separation and then lit up the second stage NewtonFour rocket engine. This helped the rocket to finally achieve orbit.
According to a tweet by the Virgin Orbit team, everybody in the team was overjoyed at the successful launch.
Today’s sequence of events for #LaunchDemo2 went exactly to plan, from safe execution of our ground ops all the way through successful full duration burns on both engines. To say we’re thrilled would be a massive understatement, but 240 characters couldn’t do it justice anyway. pic.twitter.com/ZKpoi7hkGN
— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) January 18, 2021
After the return of Cosmic Girl to the base, LauncherOne’s second stage was prepared for deploying ten satellites. This was part of NASA’s program- ELaNa academic launch.
These satellites were made for fulfilling a variety of research projects. This ranged from monitoring the weather in the polar region on the Earth to looking at spacecraft with an array of the spherical camera. This launch is a follow through on a contract that was awarded by NASA in 2015.
Two and a half hours after the successful launch, Virgin Orbit shared the good news about the successful deployment of the satellite with a tweet. As per a report shared on geekwire.com, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said that with the launch of this rocket, a new generation of innovators will be on their path to orbit.
Congratulations to our friends, @Virgin_Orbit, who completed their first mission to space today with LauncherOne carrying 9 CubeSat missions into Low Earth Orbit for @NASA. #LaunchDemo2 https://t.co/Cp9IgZmSot
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) January 17, 2021
Advantages of Cosmic Girl
This launch also has some major advantages. This jet can be used at any airport as its base of operations and can be used to prevent harsh weather situations. This versatility and quick action will be helpful for rapid response from the natural security mission teams. The only drawback is the weight of the rocket.
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