Virgin Orbit's INCREDIBLE Launch SUCCESS
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Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket reached orbit on its second flight on Jan. 17, demonstrating the air-launch system's performance after years of development.
The company's Boeing 747 aircraft, called Cosmic Girl, took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 1:38 p.m. Eastern with the LauncherOne rocket attached. The plane flew out over the Pacific just off the Southern California coast and released the rocket at about 2:39 p.m. Eastern.
The rocket ignited its NewtonThree first stage engine for three minutes, followed by stage separation and ignition of the NewtonFour engine in the rocket's second stage for nearly six minutes. After a 46-minute coast, the rocket reignited the NewtonFour for a five-second burn, followed by payload deployment in an approximately 500-kilometer orbit. However, Virgin Orbit took more than an hour to confirm those final steps.