On Monday, Virgin Orbit tried the primary full flight of its orbital payload launch system, which features a modified Boeing 747 referred to as ‘Cosmic Girl’ that acts as a service plane for its air-launched rocket LauncherOne. While Virgin Orbit has flown Cosmic Girl and LauncherOne beforehand for various exams and demonstrations, this was the primary end-to-end system check. Unfortunately, that check ended a lot sooner than deliberate – simply shortly after the LauncherOne rocket was launched from Cosmic Girl.
We've confirmed a clear launch from the plane. However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight. Cosmic Girl and our flight crew are protected and returning to base.
— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) May 25, 2020
Cosmic Girl took off simply earlier than 12 PM PT (Three PM ET) from Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. The plane was piloted by Chief Test Pilot Kelly Latimer, alongside together with her co-pilot Todd Ericson. The plane then flew to its goal launch level, the place LauncherOne did handle a “clear launch” from the service craft as deliberate at round 12:50 PM PT (3:50 PM ET), however Virgin famous only a few minutes later that the mission was subsequently “terminated.”
While the Cosmic Girl crew and all different staff are confirmed protected by the corporate, that is prone to be a disappointing check. Still, Virgin Orbit’s CEO Dan Hart and VP Will Pomerantz cautioned that many first check missions for brand spanking new launch methods don’t go fairly as deliberate – which is why you check, in spite of everything.
The firm will nonetheless probably be capable of acquire plenty of priceless knowledge from this mission, which ought to present perception into what went flawed. We’ll even be reaching out to the corporate to hunt particulars of what precipitated the early ending to right this moment’s mission. Once the corporate addresses the issues, it’s prone to set one other try, and which may not be as distant as you may anticipate as a result of Virgin has been very energetic on its launch automobile pipeline and has backup craft almost able to fly.