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A Virgin Orbit rocket launched from a Boeing 747 failed to launch into space

A Virgin Orbit rocket launched from a Boeing 747 failed to launch into space

January 10, 2023 – 06:53

LauncherOne at launch in 2021 – Photo: Patrick T Fallon/AFP

Andras Mizore

The British billionaire’s company, Virgin Orbit, failed to launch nine satellites early Tuesday morning, MTI reported. The 25-ton rocket carrying the LauncherOne satellites was launched into outer space not in the traditional way, from a ground launch station, but from under the wing of a modified Boeing 747-400 passenger plane. However, the rocket did not reach orbit due to an unknown error, and the company is investigating what could have happened.

The aircraft took off from Newquay Airport, Cornwall, southwest England, then flew in a westerly direction until it reached the designated launch area near the southwest coast of Ireland at an altitude of 10,900 metres. This area was already under joint surveillance by the British, Irish, French and Spanish aviation authorities and was closed to civil air traffic prior to launch. After the missile was launched, the plane landed safely at the airport in southwest England.

So far, there has only been an example of a similar type of release in America. Virgin Orbit’s first attempt also failed in May 2020, but the next four attempts were successful.

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