On Monday night Moscow time in the US, British businessman Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit successfully tested the air-launched LauncherOne launch system.
launch vehicle LauncherOne.
A year ago, in May, the rocket was lost during a demonstration test off the coast of Southern California in the Mojave Desert because the engines malfunctioned – they did not turn on. Now the launch vehicle has launched a group of CubeSat microsatellites into orbit, as it should.
“Today’s sequence of events for the rocket went exactly according to plan, starting with the safe execution of our ground operations and ending with the successful full launch of the engines of both stages. To say we are thrilled would be a huge understatement,” the company’s microblog said.
The aerial launch of the LauncherOne launcher involves placing it under the wing of a modified Boeing 747. The aircraft launched from a spaceport in the Mojave Desert, then about an hour later the rocket automatically dropped at a specific point over the Pacific Ocean. The launch vehicle’s stage engines worked properly, and in a few minutes LauncherOne was in orbit.
Virgin Orbit intends to offer LauncherOne as a system for placing satellites weighing up to 500 kg into orbit. This could make the procedure more mobile and cheaper than existing analogues.