After a failed attempt made on May 25, 2020, the POT got put a satellite launched from an airplane into orbit conventional. The feat was accomplished last January 17 by the Virgin Orbit mission, which used the Cosmic Girl facilities – an adapted Boeing 747 – to transport the Launcher One spacecraft.
According to the spokesmen of the Virgin Group company, the rocket had a “clean, as intended” decoupling. Afterward, Launcher One started its engines and accelerated rapidly towards the point where it was suffering the maximum amount of downforce.
When the burning process was completed, the engine was turned off and the device was detached from its payload, when crossing the Karman Line – the boundary between the atmosphere and outer space, established for aviation and astronautics uses – and entering through first time in space.
Since it was bought by Virgin Atlantic in 2001, the aircraft totaled 8,338 flights. In a short time, the company led by Richard Branson will fine-tune its launch system in order to resume business operations.
On May 25, 2020, a failed attempt was made to put a satellite into orbit from a conventional aircraft. Photo: blog.virginatlantic.com
In 2017, Virgin Orbit’s decision to separate from Virgin Galactic was due to the goal assumed by its managers to focus on the small payload orbital launch. For its part, Galactic became exclusively dedicated to offering special commercial flights for tourists.
“We are the team that is opening the space forever. We are driven by the ambition to break down the barriers that prevent affordable and responsive access to space. Our launch is a little different from the rest,” Virgin Orbit says on its Twitter account.
On the other hand, the company points out that “thanks to our Cosmic Girl transport plane we can bring launch capabilities to everyone, even to those places that have not had the opportunity to take advantage of all the wonders and usefulness of space.”
The Launcher One launch vehicle began to be developed in 2007. In turn, the 747-400 aircraft had been assembled in 2001 at the Boeing factory in Everett (in the state of Washington, United States). Its current base is the Long Beach, California airport.
Assembled in 2001 at the Boeing factory in Everett (United States), the Cosmic Girl aircraft operates from the Long Beach airport, in the state of California. Photo: blog.virginatlantic.com