It may sound like a crazy idea to launch a space rocket from under the wing of a Boeing 747 jet aircraft, but that’s exactly what Virgin Orbit plans to do.
In fact, the company has already achieved this feat – in May last year – although on that occasion it failed to make the rocket into orbit as planned.
Since then, Virgin Orbit has been refining its system ahead of Slate’s second attempt on Sunday, January 10.
The work is part of an ongoing effort by Virgin Orbit to launch a commercial business for small-satellite launch.
Sunday’s launch Demo 2 test mission was scheduled to take place in December 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Now, however, Virgin Orbit is confident that it has enough measures in place to allow it to proceed safely with the launch in a few days.
“Now, with all our major pre-launch tests completed, we are making our way through our final reviews, investigations and readiness discussions,” the company said in a tweet. We are focused and excited to go into space soon! “
Now, after completing all our major pre-launch tests, we are making our way through our final review, investigation and readiness discussion.
It is starting for a busy year, but we are focused and excited to be flying into space soon!
& Mdash; Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) 5 January 2021
The launch window will be open from 10 am to 2 pm on 10 January. The modified Boeing 747 will fly from Virgin Orbit’s base in the Mojave Desert, California before the Pacific exit. There it will ignite a 70-foot-long LauncherOne rocket.
The mission will not be livestreamed but the team has promised to tweet real-time updates during the mission.
The launch demo 2 is particularly important as the rocket will carry its first payload which includes a set of cubes for NASA.
The first attempt to send its LauncherOne rocket into space ended a few seconds after Virgin Orbit began with a Newtonthree-first engine of a pneumolite booster, causing an automatic shutdown. An investigation has revealed that the failure was caused by a fuel line problem that has since been fixed.
Despite the hiccups, the mission indicated useful data to the team, while also demonstrating the reliability of other parts of the operation.
The company recently stated, “In our first launch demo, we performed the entire prelaunch sequence, flyout, rocket separation and unfit flight, engine start and first-stage powered flight.” To demonstrate the rest of the rocket system including steps and our upper stage. Again, we are ready to collect terabytes of data from LauncherOne as it flies, increasing our knowledge and proving the capabilities of our system. “
If Virgin Orbit manages to launch a viable commercial service in the coming years, its satellite launch system will compete with services similar to the likes of SpaceX and Rocket Lab, deploying via more traditional ground-based rocket launches We do. Virgin Orbit says that its air-launch system will offer a global network of spaceports to give smaller satellites more companies willing to deploy more options to start a mission.