This is a breakthrough moment not only for the American, but also the global space industry. Thanks to Virgin Orbit, it will now be possible to cheaply and safely carry space installations into Earth's orbit with airplanes that can take off even every hour. Such technology will allow us to build cosmic Internet constellations much faster or conduct experiments that will allow us to better prepare for the colonization of the Moon and Mars.
The first presentation of the system took place in May 2020 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Virgin Orbit has announced that the take-off, flight and landing of the Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl and the launch of the rocket suspended from the plane were successful. Unfortunately, her flight was unsuccessful. The explosion occurred shortly after separation and starting the engine. It was a partial success for the company and its employees. The team had to work on their technology a little more.
Yesterday (17.01) this project was finally carried out perfectly from start to finish. Virgin Orbit announced that during the flight of the rocket, CubeSat microsatellites with experiments belonging to the American Space Agency were on board. Interestingly, some of them are the work of students of American universities.
The LauncherOne rocket is powered by two engines, a single NewtonThree on the first stage and a single NewtonFour on the second stage. Web News engines run on liquid oxygen and kerosene (RP-1). Modern rockets will be able to carry small payloads of up to 225 kilograms into space, but this is enough to orbit, for example, a constellation of small satellites.
Virgin Orbit plans its first commercial missions in the first quarter of this year. The company foresees great interest in this way of carrying cargo into space. There may be up to 12 launches by the end of the year, and as many as 24 in 2022. The acceleration of Richard Branson's engineering team should come as no surprise, as competition is growing in the world of the private sector of the space industry.
The Stratolaunch company, which is working on the project of the world's largest plane with the same name, has similar plans. The machine is built from two modified Boeing 747 fuselages and its task will be to carry and launch rockets with loads into Earth's orbit. The company also plans to build a hypersonic vehicle called the Talon-A. With its help, it will be able to carry out projects related to the transport of goods between global metropolises.