Virgin’s LauncherOne rocket fails on maiden test

Virgin Orbit’s maiden test flight of its air-launched satellite launcher rocket ended in failure following an onboard anomaly.  The launch d...


Virgin Orbit’s maiden test flight of its air-launched satellite launcher rocket ended in failure following an onboard anomaly. 

The launch demonstration was conducted over the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. 

The 747 carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl took off from Mojave Air and Space Port and successfully released the two-stage, LauncherOne rocket from 35000 ft — which then ignited its engine in mid-air for the first time.

An anomaly then occurred early in first stage flight, and the mission was safely terminated. Even though the fuel tanks were pressurised, the rocket could not sustain the burn in the horizontal inclination, and the engine was shut down quickly after an initial start.

The carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl and all of its crew landed safely at Mojave Air and Space Port, concluding the mission.

Despite the failure, pre-launch procedures, captive carry flight out to the drop site, and clean release were validated.

The company’s next rocket is in final stages of integration at its Long Beach manufacturing facility, with a half-dozen other rockets for subsequent missions not far behind.