Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne Experiences “Anomaly” During Test Flight; Rocket Does Not Reach Space Written 26 May 2020


Virgin Orbit 747 Cosmic Girl | Crishazzard; Wikipedia; CC BY-SA 4.0

Spaceflight Now reports that “making its first flight, a privately-funded air-launched rocket developed and built by Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit failed to reach space Monday after release from the company’s modified 747 carrier airplane over the Pacific Ocean.” Virgin Orbit’s “two-stage LauncherOne suffered an ‘anomaly’ soon after ignition of its kerosene-fed first stage engine, the company said.” With a “two-person flight crew and two launch engineers on-board,” the Boeing 747, named Cosmic Girl, “flew west from Mojave, then south over the Pacific Ocean toward the rocket’s drop point near California’s Channel Islands around 100 miles (160 kilometers) west-southwest of Long Beach.” In the “final moments before release,” chief pilot Kelly Latimer “maneuvered the airplane to pull up at an angle of about 27.5 degrees. The launch team aboard the plane then commanded release of the 70-foot-long (21-meter) rocket from a pylon under the aircraft’s left wing at 2:50 p.m. EDT.” After “confirming release of the LauncherOne rocket, Virgin Orbit followed up three minutes later with a tweet saying the ‘mission terminated shortly into the flight.’” The company “said the aircraft and its four-person crew were safe. The ‘Cosmic Girl’ carrier jet landed back at Mojave at 4:26 p.m. EDT.”
Full Story (Spaceflight Now)