Virgin Orbit, founded by Sir Richard Branson, launched satellites from three countries into space on Wednesday, June 30, marking the company’s second successful rocket launch from a plane. The company’s modified 747 airplanes, called Cosmic Girl, took flight from the Mojave Desert in California, carrying a 70-foot (21-meter) rocket under its left wing. The LauncherOne rocket broke away from the plane as it flew over the Pacific near the Channel Islands, then fired its engine to launch into space. The descent took place at a height of around 37,000 feet (11,000 meters).
Virgin Orbit launches seven satellites
The bundle of seven small satellites at the end of the second stage was seen against the curve of the blue Earth in camera shots. The satellites are from the United States Defense Department, the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and Poland’s SatRevolution firm, which is developing an Earth-observing constellation. Virgin Orbit later called the mission a success, stating that the satellites were in the correct orbit.
Once the satellites reached orbit, Branson planted a kiss on the cheek of Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart, whose Virgin Galactic company is close to launching paying customers to the edge of space. “It’s a pinch-yourself moment,” Branson said. “Cheers! Well done, everybody.” Branson declined to say whether he will be on Virgin Galactic’s next test voyage to space — or the one after that, as originally scheduled — in an interview. This summer and fall, the company expects three additional test flights of its rocket ship before taking paying passengers next year.
“All I can say is when the engineers tell me that I can go to space, I’m ready, fit and healthy to go,” said Branson. “So we’ll see.” The 10 NASA-sponsored satellites were designed and built by colleges, and Virgin Orbit launched its first set of satellites into orbit in January. Last year’s flight demonstration was a flop.
Compared to the more traditional method of launching rockets from the ground, Virgin Orbit claims that their air-launched technique can deploy satellites into orbit on relatively short notice. From the Mojave Air and Space Port, Branson intends to make satellite launches “nearly routine.” According to Hart, the company’s next launch is scheduled for this fall. The music from the 1973 horror film “The Exorcist” inspired Branson to call Wednesday’s mission Tubular Bells. It was Virgin Records’ very first release. SpaceX launched a rocket from Cape Canaveral a few hours later, carrying 88 small satellites into a rare polar orbit.
(with inputs from AP)
Picture Credit: @VirginOrbit-Twitter
This Article firstly Publish on www.republicworld.com