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Virgin Orbit's Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl has successfully dropped a dummy LauncherOne rocket.
Virgin Orbit has not set a hard date for when it will progress to actually send LauncherOne test rockets into orbit,
Virgin Orbit’s first rocket drop test has gone off without any complications. The Virgin Galactic sister company performed its first-ever drop test on July 10. In the drop test, it released a LauncherOne rocket from its Boeing 747 carrier plane, over California's Mojave desert. However, the test did not involve a real rocket. The Boeing 747 carrier just dropped its 70 foot (21 meter) rocket some 35,000 feet (about 10,670 metres) to the receiving site in California.
In a blog post, the company's representative described the test's intent as "We'll be monitoring and rehearsing a million things, but this test is really all about those few seconds just after release, as we ensure the rocket and aircraft separate cleanly and observe how the rocket free-falls through the air.”
Virgin Orbit is part of the Virgin Group, owned by Richard Branson. The company has achieved a number of milestones with LauncherOne and the carrier plane, which is known as Cosmic Girl, over the past year. However, according to Space.com, Virgin Orbit has not set a hard date for when it will progress to actually send LauncherOne test rockets into orbit, other than that the rocket needs to undergo significant testing beforehand.
LauncherOne is capable of carrying satellites weighing up to 500 kilograms to a variety of destinations in low Earth orbit. Space.com says, “Cosmic Girl will carry the rocket up to about 35,000 feet (10,700 m), at which point the booster will separate and make its own way to space. The plane, of course, will come back down to Earth for a runway landing.”
Moreover, Dan Hard, company chief told CNBC in an interview that he hoped the first full-fledged launch would take place "before the end of the summer." Virgin already has six rockets in progress in its factory, and thinks it can produce "beyond 20" per year, Hart added.
Interesting times lie ahead. If successful, LauncherOne could become a go-to option for satellite operators that want to trim their costs
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