Virgin Orbit conducted the first test flight of the rocket LauncherOne
Recently, more and more private companies are making progress in launching spacecraft into orbit. And soon after the successful launch their rocket and SpaceX Rocket Lab, which put its first rocket into space last week, the orbit can aspire and owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit. Just a day ago, in California's Mojave Desert over the company held the first successful test of the missile LauncherOne.
Recall that LauncherOne - it's quite an interesting project, which is an orbital carrier rocket launched into Earth's orbit from the plane in the air. The payload, which is able to remove LauncherOne, can reach up to 220 kilograms.
Back in late October of this year, company representatives reported that LauncherOne first joined to the wing of the aircraft Boeing 747. A week ago, a plane with a missile attached to the wing drove on the runway at a speed of about 200 kilometers per hour. At the same time it held a test flight took place without any announcements. Moreover, the company did not specify whether the missile to the aircraft or is a flight soldier attached. However, one of the launch eyewitnesses posted a video of the departing airport Victorville aircraft missile under the wing.
@Virgin_Orbit first flight with rocket under wing! Go Virgin !!! pic.twitter.com/16TjZj73ug
- Zia Aerospace (@zia_aero) November 18, 2018
A little later, the press service of the company confirmed that this was indeed the first test flight, but, as they say in captive carry mode, ie without separation of the missile from the aircraft. The flight lasted about 90 minutes, during which time the Boeing 747 flew not only over the Mojave Desert, but also over the spaceport, located in this area. The press service of the Virgin Orbit claims that this is not the final test.
"planned number of flights, during which we will collect terabytes of data on the aerodynamic characteristics of the structural load and more. This test program is complete drop test, when the missile is launched from the aircraft in flight, but the engine will not start, and supposedly it will fall back to Earth. "
The company did not name the date of the first launch into orbit, but Richard Branson in an interview with CNBC, said that he estimated to be held "in December or January."
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