Virgin Orbit launches rocket off a 747 aircraft, puts satellites into orbit

A 70-foot rocket, riding beneath the wing of a retrofitted Boeing 747 aircraft, detached from the plane and fired itself into Earth’s orbit on Sunday — marking the first successful launch for the California-based rocket startup Virgin Orbit.

Virgin Orbit’s 747, nicknamed Cosmic Girl, took off from California around 10:30 am PT with the rocket, called LauncherOne, nestled beneath the plane’s left wing. The aircraft flew out over the Pacific Ocean before the rocket was released, freeing LauncherOne and allowing it to power up its rocket motor and propel itself to more than 17,000 miles per hour, fast enough to begin orbiting the Earth.
“In both a literal and figurative sense, this is miles beyond how far we reached in our first Launch Demo,” the company posted on its Twitter account.
The rocket flew a group of tiny satellites on behalf of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites, or ELaNa, program, which allows high school and college students to design and assemble small satellites that NASA then pays to launch into space. The nine small satellites that Virgin Orbit flew on Sunday included temperature-monitoring satellite from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a satellite that will study how tiny particles collide in space from the University of Central Florida, and an experimental radiation-detection satellite from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
About four hours after takeoff on Saturday, Virgin Orbit confirmed in a tweet that all the satellites were “successfully deployed into our target orbit.”
The successful mission makes Virgin Orbit only the third so-called “New Space” company — startups hoping to overhaul the traditional industry with innovative technologies — to reach orbit, after SpaceX and Rocket Lab. The success also paves the way for Virgin Orbit to begin launching satellites for a host of customers that it already has lined up, including NASA, the military and private-sector companies that use satellites for commercial purposes.
[…]

Source: Virgin Orbit launches rocket off a 747 aircraft – CNN

Organisational Structures | Technology and Science | Military, IT and Lifestyle consultancy | Social, Broadcast & Cross Media | Flying aircraft