British billionaire Richard Branson’s aerospace company Virgin Orbit has announced its intention to conduct a second attempt at a LauncherOne demonstration launch in December this year.
LauncherOne’s first launch in May of this year ended in failure. The reason for this, as it turned out, was a defect in the high-pressure fuel line, which had already been eliminated.
The company plans to use the LauncherOne rocket to deliver small satellites weighing up to 500 kg into orbit. A modified Boeing 747 jet delivers the rocket to an altitude of about 45 thousand feet (13.7 km), after which it separates and is sent to a predetermined orbit by accelerating its own engines. Such a rocket launch scheme is less expensive than a launch from a spaceport, so Virgin hopes to be able to offer customers a more attractive price list for the delivery of small satellites into orbit.
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart believes Virgin Orbit would have put the rocket into orbit on its first launch if the fuel line hadn’t collapsed. All other systems, he said, worked as expected.
The rocket for the second demonstration mission, which is the third launch vehicle built by the company to date, has been fully tested at Virgin Orbit’s Mojave Desert. Hart said Virgin Orbit will repeat some of these tests this month with a modified engine before the company begins pre-starting operations.
Hart also confirmed rumors that Virgin Orbit is in talks on further investments. For further promotion, it needs about $ 150 million in new capital.
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