Mar, 2021 - By WMR
On Sunday, January 17th, 2021, Virgin Orbit became third American private company to enter the orbit.
Launching air-borne rockets is no longer a mere concept as it was turned into reality by Virgin Orbit this Sunday.
The three-year old company, Virgin Orbit, became first of its kind to launch small satellites mid-air. The customized jumbo Boeing 747 took the flight to a height of 10,668 meters on a pre-determined altitude with the satellite-launcher ‘Launcher-One’ mounted on its wings. On that co-ordinate, the rocket was dropped and it ignited in the transverse direction of the Boeing 747. The rocket successfully crossed the gravitational binding field of Earth with all satellites on board. After couple of hours, it was reported that the rocket had precisely deployed all satellites at an altitude of 310 miles.
Launch that took place on Sunday, January 17th was a success for this Richard Branson owned company which had been attempted in May last year. That mission was aborted due to propellant oxygen line breach in the booster’s engine. But this time, the booster was replaced with the liquid-fuelled rocket ‘Launcher-One’ after enormous amount of testing. Launcher-One ignited the engine after detaching from the Boeing 747, and cruised into space. This was the first time for Virgin Orbit to launch small satellites for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA had tasked Virgin Orbit with carrying 10 small satellites. All the satellites will have various functions such as weather observation, cleaning space debris and inspection of space-crafts.
In 2018, Virgin Orbit’s sister space company, Virgin Galactic, achieved a historic feat of launching a spacecraft with two humans attached to a commercial airplane, into the space. Mid-air launches don’t need huge rockets and excessive fuel, which will ultimately keep the budgets in control. This technique makes launching satellites possible from anywhere and that’s the uniqueness of Virgin Orbit.