British entrepreneur and owner of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, has seen his Virgin Orbit company unsuccessfully launch its rocket over the Pacific Ocean.
The booster was released from under the wing of one of Virgin’s 747 jumbo jets which had been converted for the test flight. Following the launch of the rocket, it ignited its engine seconds later. However, a computer problem meant the flight was terminated early. The firm had warned beforehand that the chances of success might be only 50:50.
Virgin Orbit’s goal is to try to capture a share of the emerging market for the launch of small satellites.
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said: “Test flights are instrumented to yield data and we now have a treasure trove of that. We accomplished many of the goals we set for ourselves, though not as many as we would have liked. Nevertheless, we took a big step forward today. Our engineers are already poring through the data. Our next rocket is waiting. We will learn, adjust, and begin preparing for our next test, which is coming up soon.”
We’ve confirmed a clean release from the aircraft. However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight. Cosmic Girl and our flight crew are safe and returning to base.
— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) May 25, 2020