Virgin Orbit prepares to launch a rocket into space for the second time

Virgin Orbit prepares to launch a rocket into space for the second time.
Virgin Orbit prepares to launch a rocket into space for the second time. Credit: Virgin Orbit

Earlier this year, Virgin Orbit attempted to launch a modified Boeing 747 powered by its LauncherOne rocket, which was located under the wing of the plane itself. Seconds after ignition, an anomaly in the first phase engine brought the project to a complete halt. However, the company returns to the charge with another attempt, of which there is already an indicated date.

The company has announced that the launch window for our Launch Demo 2 mission will open on Saturday, December 19. The idea of this project is to build a system for small satellites. The launch will take place at the company’s own base, located in the Mojave Desert, California.

Over the past few years, Virgin Orbit has been developing and testing its unique rocket launch system. It is based on a modified version of the Boeing 747, which can carry a rocket to the altitude before releasing it from its wing and firing it into orbit.

After ignition of the engine and stage separation, the LauncherOne rocket can then deliver the payload into orbit, while the Cosmic Girl plane returns to land on the airstrip. Virgin Orbit’s first attempt at spacewalk took place in May this year, and although it was unsuccessful, it did not end in complete failure.

Cosmic Girl was able to lift the rocket to the altitude as planned, but shortly after the first stage engine ignited, an anomaly occurred, and the mission was terminated.

After six months of research, data analysis, modification, and testing, Virgin Orbit is bringing the Cosmic Girl back to the runway with the LauncherOne attached to its bottom. The aircraft has already completed its last test flight, the purpose of which is to simulate the upcoming mission and collect data.

Now the engineers say they are ready to launch LauncherOne from the plane for the second time on December 19. They have a similar launch window available on Sunday, December 20, with further opportunities available in the following weeks, if needed. The company hopes that the second attempt will be more successful than the first.

Virgin Orbit affirms that its exclusive air-launch system will make it possible to take advantage of a global network of spaceports so that companies around the world have more options when launching their satellites into orbit.