Virgin Orbit’s rocket TERMINATED moments after release from carrier aircraft on maiden test mission
The carrier aircraft and its rocket – dubbed ‘Cosmic Girl’ and ‘Launcher One,’ respectively – took off from an airfield outside Los Angeles on Monday in the California-based company’s debut test flight, heading for a drop point over the Pacific.
Here's a quick shot from takeoff. pic.twitter.com/7nt1u58ogs— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) May 25, 2020
According to Virgin Orbit, both the plane and rocket were in “healthy” shape throughout the mission and everything appeared to be going according to plan – but at the last minute the test fell apart.
We've confirmed a clean release from the aircraft. However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight.
While it did not elaborate on what exactly went wrong, presumably the rocket crashed into the sea soon after separation. Luckily, the launch failure did not affect the aircraft and it was able to safely return to the airfield with its crew intact. The company said its team would now sift through the data collected, noting that work on a second rocket was already underway.
The team's already hard at work digging into the data, and we're eager to hop into our next big test ASAP. Thankfully, instead of waiting until after our 1st flight to tackle our 2nd rocket, we've already completed a ton of work to get us back in the air and keep moving forward.— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) May 25, 2020
Here's our next rocket, built and ready for system-level testing in our final integration area as it waits for its turn to fly to space. pic.twitter.com/Zhc2uDtMMC— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) May 25, 2020
Fellow private space maverick Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, offered consolation to the Virgin Orbit team, explaining that his own company needed four tries to put its Falcon 1 rocket successfully into orbit.
We appreciate that, Elon. We're excited about the data we were able to get today. https://t.co/7fNEIVUdWB— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) May 25, 2020
While the company said it hoped to do more with its first test, it added that “key objectives” were nonetheless accomplished with the launch.
“As we said before the flight, our goals today were to work through the process of conducting a launch, learn as much as we could, and achieve ignition,” Orbit said. “We hoped we could have done more, but we accomplished those key objectives today.”
Like this story? Share it with a friend!