Virgin Orbit set to try and send satellites to space for the first time

Virgin Orbit’s airborne rocket-launching system during a previous test. | Image: Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit — the sister company of billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism outfit Virgin Galactic — will try a second test of its small satellite-launching rocket later today, months after it failed to reach orbit during a first attempt. It will also be the first time that the company tries to launch working satellites into space on behalf of NASA.

Sometime after 1PM ET, Virgin Orbit’s customized Boeing 747 will take off from Virgin Galactic’s spaceport in the Mojave desert and ascend to 35,000 feet with the satellite-launching rocket attached to its wing. Once it reaches a predetermined location, the rocket is supposed to drop and ignite, taking the small satellites on board the rest of the way into orbit around the Earth. Virgin…

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Author: Sean O’Kane