Nicknamed Cosmic Girl, the plane held under its wing the “LauncherOne” rocket carrying 10 shoebox-sized satellites selected by NASA and took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port on Sunday morning. After roughly one hour of flight time, the rocket was dropped from the wing and began accelerating to speeds of 17,500 mph, reaching a height of 500km before deploying the satellites.
“A new gateway to space has just sprung open,” said the company’s CEO Dan Hart on the mission’s success. “That LauncherOne was able to successfully reach orbit today is a testament to this team’s talent, precision, drive, and ingenuity.”
“Virgin Orbit has achieved something many thought impossible, added Virgin’s founder Richard Branson. “It was so inspiring to see our specially adapted Virgin Atlantic 747, Cosmic Girl, send the LauncherOne rocket soaring into orbit. This magnificent flight is the culmination of many years of hard work and will also unleash a whole new generation of innovators on the path to orbit.”
The company is now planning to transition officially into the commercial world for its next launch and already has numerous clients booked up for the near future, including the U.S. Space Force, the U.K. Royal Air Force, Swarm Technologies, SITAEL, and GomSpace.
“Looks like the blue skies went to black!” We are overjoyed to share this new video of our Launch Demo 2 flight. The adrenaline is still flowing after we aced this flight and delivered satellites for nine different @NASA and university teams exactly to their target orbit. pic.twitter.com/nVX21hXywi
— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) January 18, 2021</a
Elsewhere in tech, Apple is reportedly testing out foldable screens for the iPhone.