BRANSON’S VIRGIN ORBIT FLUBS 1ST ROCKET LAUNCH
Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit failed Monday (Tuesday, May 26, 2020 in Manila) in its first test launch of a new rocket carried aloft by a Boeing 747 and released over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California.
“We’ve confirmed a clean release from the aircraft. However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight. Cosmic Girl and our flight crew are safe and returning to base,” Virgin Orbit told John Antczak of the Associated Press (AP). Will Pomerantz, Virgin Orbit’s vice president for special projects, commented during a preflight briefing Saturday that about half of first rocket launches fail. “History is not terribly kind, necessarily, to maiden flights,” he said.
The highly modified jumbo jet took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out just beyond the Channel Islands, where the drop occurred.
The rocket was supposed to fall for a few seconds before the first of its two stages ignited and hurtled it down the coast toward the South Pole for insertion of its demonstration payload into a low Earth orbit, Antczak wrote.