Virgin Orbit launches satellites into space

Rebecca Falconer
·1 min read

Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket reached space and successfully deployed 10 payloads for NASA's Launch Services Program on Sunday, Richard Branson's company announced.

Why it matters: Per Axios' Miriam Kramer, Virgin Orbit is one of several private spaceflight companies aiming to capitalize on what they believe is a boom in demand for small spacecraft launches.

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  • "This flight also marks a historical first: no other orbital class, air-launched, liquid-fueled rocket had successfully reached space before today," Virgin Orbit said in a statement.

The big picture: The Virgin Orbit "Cosmic Girl," a modified, 70-foot-long Boeing 747-400 carrying the rocket under it's wing, took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California.

  • The rocket dropped from the wing and ignited its engine during the launch.

  • Virgin Orbit's first attempted demonstration launch was last May, when it was carrying a test satellite. It "briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting," AP notes.

Worth noting: Rocket Lab, another company launching small satellites to orbit, has "deployed 96 payloads in 17 launches of its Electron rocket from a site in New Zealand," per AP.

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