Virgin’s rocket reaches orbit for the first time, deploys satellites

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

Update January 17th 5:34PM ET: Virgin Orbit’s rocket reached orbit and the satellites were released, meaning Sunday’s mission was a success. The headline has been updated to reflect this. The original story is below.

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…

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Author: Sean O’Kane