After failing to reach orbit and carrying seven payloads on board, Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket plummeted to Earth to its fiery doom. The rocket’s infernal descent was captured on video, revealing its ill-fated return journey from space.
Ramón López, an observer with the Spanish Meteor Network, caught the rocket re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere from Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. He posted the footage YouTubealso on Twitter.
The video shows the second stage of LauncherOne returning to Earth. “As it does this, the friction with the atmosphere causes it to break up, heat up and burn, creating a slow-moving fireball across the sky,” Marco Langbroek, a professor of astrodynamics at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, told Gizmodo. e-mail. “At that time, the rocket stage still carried payloads attached to it –they burned together with the rocket scene.”
Langbroek identified the flaming object in the video as LauncherOne based on the time the video was taken, its geographic location, the direction of view as seen from Lanzarote, and the object’s direction of travel. “The speed that seems so slow in the sky, for a long time, and the general appearance of the fireball is also consistent with the re-entry of a man-made object into the upper atmosphere”.
Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing aircraft has been named Space Girllifted off from the Cornwall Spaceport in England at 5:02 pm ET on Monday carries a LauncherOne booster rocket mounted under its left wing. The mission was to celebrate First orbital launch from British soilIt opens new avenues for the space industry in the United Kingdom.
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However, LauncherOne has encountered an anomaly failed to enter orbit during second stage engine start-up. “The upper stage has not reached the speed necessary to launch itself and its payloads into orbit around Earth,” Langbroek said. “Although he reached space for a short time, then EDue to this insufficient speed, it again increased in a suborbital ballistic trajectory.
The Start Me Up mission carried two cubic satellites for seven commercial and government customers, including the UK Ministry of Defence. AMAN Earth observation satellite from Oman, and Stork-6, the 6th satellite Poland’s Earth-observing CubeSat will be included in the constellation.
All of the satellites suffered the same fate, again burning up with the rocket during landing. It was a disappointing end to a long-awaited mission that was supposed to usher in a new era for the European space industry. Virgin Orbit and the UK Space Agency have launched an investigation to determine the cause of the rocket anomaly.
“We will work tirelessly to understand the nature of the failure, take corrective action, and return to orbit as soon as we complete the full investigation and mission assurance process,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. statement. Shares of Virgin Orbit took a big hit after the mission failure, falling nearly 22% in premarket trading Tuesday morning, NBC informed. The company’s finances were already looking a little bleak, with Virgin Orbit reporting a net loss of $139.5 million through September 30, 2022, according to Ars Technica. informed based on the company’s quarterly profit.
“We will be working closely with Virgin Orbit as they investigate what caused the anomaly in the coming days and weeks,” Matt Archer, director of commercial spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, said in a statement. placed to Twitter.
Despite the latest setback, the UK is still determined to build a launch capability from British soil. “Nonetheless, the project has succeeded in establishing horizontal launch capability at Cornwall Spaceport and we are committed to becoming the leading provider of commercial small satellite launch in Europe, with planned vertical launches from Scotland by 2030,” said Archer. As LauncherOne is currently grounded, the UK may turn to other companies to get its orbital launches off the ground and into orbit.
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