When it comes to visiting space, there are a multitude of private companies in the race. Nearly all of them are bringing new strategies to board. You have SpaceX’s reusable rockets, Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system and so on, and so forth. While SpaceX’s rockets are already operational, Virgin Orbit is among those getting closer to a by the day. The company recently took its systems out on a test spin with an actual rocket attached.
Virgin Orbit is using a modified 747-400 for the purpose of test flights, and its latest sojourn into the skies, it carried a 70-foot long rocket. The flight went without a hitch, strengthening the company’s claims that its systems work perfectly.
The launch took place from Victorville, Calif., near Virgin Orbit’s Long Beach factory and the Mojave Air and Space Port. It involved the aircraft taking a rocket near the lower atmosphere, from where the company then expects to fire its payload-carrying-rockets on real flights.
Speaking on the topic, Virgin Orbit Chief Pilot Kelly Latimer (Lt. Col, US Air Force, Ret.) said:
The vehicles flew like a dream today. Everyone on the flight crew and all of our colleagues on the ground were extremely happy with the data we saw from the instruments on-board the aircraft, in the pylon, and on the rocket itself. From my perspective in the cockpit, the vehicles handled incredibly well, and perfectly matched what we’ve trained for in the simulators.
The company plans to conduct several more tests, both with and without rockets, post which there would be a final drop tests wherein the rocket will be released without igniting. The test has been christened as the “Cosmic Girl”, however, the company has yet to fix a date for it.
The company has a lot hanging on the success of “Cosmic Girl”. Even the vast space is now a competitive space – pun intended – in front of humanity’s boundless curiosity and ambition. Along with SpaceX, Virgin Orbit is competing with companies like RocketLab, Relativity Space, ARCA, AstroSpace, Blue Origin, Generation Orbit, Lockheed Martin, and Orbital ATK. As such, the success of its latest test it a significant milestone.