Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747, dubbed “Space Girl,” took off from Newquay in Cornwall, England, on Monday. 245 miles west of London, on the country’s first launch from English soil. But about two hours after liftoff, Virgin Orbit announced that the launch had failed.
“It appears that LauncherOne has suffered an anomaly that will prevent us from getting into orbit for this mission,” director Christopher Relf said. systems engineering and verification for Virgin Orbit on Virgin Orbit live streaming covering the launch. LauncherOne is the name of the air-launched missile Under the wing of the Space Maiden aircraft.
There were no people on board the rocket expected to take off, only satellites in the air.
“We’re looking at the data and information that we get,” he said. “And we will be he comes back to you in a moment with more.”
A follow up tweet Relph’s comments from Virgin Orbit were echoed: “It appears we have an anomaly preventing us from reaching orbit. We appreciate the information.”
It happened on Monday to aim To mark the first successful launch from the UK, technically the rocket Space Girl is designed to be launched in flight.
The modified Boeing 747 flew to an altitude of about 35,000 feet (10.7 kilometers) before launch the attached under the rocket wing.
Virgin Orbit expected LauncherOne Traveling between 310 and 745 miles (499 and 1,199 kilometers) above Earth’s surface and then launching nine satellites into low Earth orbit.
It was not immediately clear what caused the rocket to malfunction.
The launch was intended to be the first commercial satellite launch from Western Europe for Virgin Orbit, a subsidiary of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and the first for Virgin Orbit outside the United States.
Since January 2021, the US-based company has made four successful flights from the Mojave Desert in California. There is a company He also had a previous failure. Virgin Orbit first launch attempt from California in May 2020 failed due to engine trouble.
Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl spacecraft and crew returned safely to Earth after Monday’s launch, the company confirmed in a live broadcast.
Before takeoff, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart described the UK mission as a “historic endeavour”.
“This launch represents the opening of a new era in the British space industry and new partnerships between industry, government and allies,” he said.
The satellites on board Monday belonged to seven customers, including private companies and government agencies. Among other things, the satellites were expected to be used to prevent illegal trade, smuggling and terrorism, as well as to reduce the environmental impact of production.
The mission, named “Start Me Up” after the Rolling Stones’ 1981 song, was a joint venture between Virgin Orbit, the UK Space Agency, the local government of Cornwall and the UK’s Royal Air Force.
The launch was expected to mark a significant milestone in the UK’s growing commercial satellite sector.
The country has been working on commercial spaceports for several years to capture a bigger share of the fast-growing global space market, which Morgan Stanley estimates could be worth more than $1 trillion by 2040.
The country’s £16.5bn ($20bn) space industry directly supported around 47,000 jobs between 2019 and 2020, according to the latest government figures.
Ian Annett, deputy chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said on Friday that the launch heralded a “new era” for the UK space industry. [it] firmly on the map as Europe’s leading destination for commercial small satellite launches.
“The development of new orbital launch capabilities is already driving growth, accelerating investment and creating jobs in Cornwall and other communities across the UK,” he said.
The small satellite launch industry is a booming business worldwide, but especially in the United States. Virgin Orbit was one of the first in a long list of startups trying to build small rockets that could quickly and cheaply launch light satellites into orbit. increasing a business model with dozens of global competitors. But the industry is also known to be volatile. Other small rocket startups, including US-based companies such as Firefly and Astra, have also suffered setbacks in recent months and years.