Orbit Virgin are unable to launch a rocket from the plane — what happened to her?

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2020-05-27 03:40:11

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Orbit Virgin are unable to launch a rocket from the plane — what happened to her?

While SpaceX is preparing to host its first manned launch into space, its competitors are also not sitting still. For example, the Orbit of Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson decided to stand out in an unusual rocket launch... directly with conventional passenger aircraft (still do that, right?). The idea, of course, is crazy, though very interesting, but once on SpaceX laughed when she first decided to re-use rockets for space flight. However, in the case of Virgin Orbit launch failed: launch, which was straight from a 747 to go into space, fell into the Pacific ocean. Why did this happen?

the Launch aircraft

There were no signs of trouble: last night at about 23:00 Moscow time the Boeing 747, which is affectionately called Cosmic Girl, took off from the aerospace test range in California. Flying 150 miles above the Pacific ocean (1 hour and 6 minutes) the plane suddenly lifted up his nose, tipped to the right to lift the left wing, under which was mounted a rocket LauncherOne, and threw it over the ocean. The rocket first stage after 3 seconds of reset (so as not to damage the plane), and according to reports, Virgin, Orbit Twitter, she was able to do it. Half an hour later, the second stage was to reach the target orbit.

But then there was the "unforeseen problems", the rocket, instead of continuing its flight, crashed over the Pacific ocean shortly after launch of the first stage engine. For the company this is a serious loss, because the second stage of the rocket had a lot of tools and sensors that were supposed to help to study its behavior during flight.

the flight Plan of the aircraft Cosmic Girl

Virgin Orbit has not commented on the incident, the company needs to conduct its investigation and remove the rocket from the bottom of the ocean if possible. Nevertheless, experts in the field of armaments and readers have suggested that the problem could be related to problems in the fuel system of the rocket, which she was unable to continue its flight.

How to launch

Cosmic Girl is preparing for the flight (missile under the left wing)

Why bother to launch a missile out of a plane? Actually not only for a spectacular show. Start from a high altitude allows the rocket to pass the first 10 kilometers of height with the highest density of the atmosphere, that is, the plane seems to be "helping" her to go into orbit. For almost 25 years, thus launching the rocket Pegasus XL aircraft Lockheed L-1011 Stargazer. Now, however, it is not economically feasible because the cost of such a trigger is almost equal to the price that can carry much more payload.

First test flight the rocket LauncherOne company . Then the same Boeing 747 attached to the wing by a missile drove on the runway with a speed of about 200 kilometers per hour and took off.

A Little later, the press service of the company confirmed that this was really the first test flight, but that is, in captive carry mode, i.e. without separation of the missile from the aircraft. The flight lasted about 90 minutes, during which the Boeing 747 flew not only over the Mojave desert, but also over the space, located in this area.

And almost a year ago Virgin Orbit decided on the same flight, but with the separation of the missile from the aircraft. The company again tried to raise a private LauncherOne rocket with a passenger plane Boeing 747-400. The design of the aircraft have changed under his wings was equipped with a special attachment to hold the missiles, which can release it at any desired moment. The separation of the rocket occurred at 10-km altitude, but she did not turn on the engine and go into earth orbit, and just fell on the territory of the Military air forces of the United States. But the drop was planned in advance, the engineers wanted to find out what is happening with the aircraft and missile after separation. Fortunately, the company did not fill the rocket this fuel and filled the tanks with a mixture of water and antifreeze.

Flight of the rocket LauncherOne in 2019

This time the rocket worked on kerosene and liquid oxygen, so, apparently, just in case the plane was sent away from the coast. However, just like in 2019, it was unable to fly into space. However, this time the fall wasn't planned. The plans of the engineers Virgin Orbit flight of the rocket with the third stage, which will help her to reach the moon, but first they need to understand at least the first.

In Richard Branson's ambitious plans for his brainchild. Space travel that he wants to do for everyone (), will cost 250 thousand dollars. It may seem that the money will agree to pay only a few, but for many of the rich the price is very reasonable. But first he needs to learn how to make successful runs at least without people. SpaceX already trained and .

the Rocket is not flying and a few seconds

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