Virgin Orbit reported that the initial rocket launch from the UK ended in failure due to an early shutdown of the rocket, thus preventing LauncherOne from reaching orbit.
The initial stage of the mission was successful, the firm declared, with its aircraft taking off from Newquay Airport hosting Britain’s first Spaceport, Cornwall.
On Monday night, a repurposed Boeing 747, named Cosmic Girl, ascended to a height of 35,000ft over the ocean off the southern shore of Ireland a few minutes before 11:15 pm.
Ahead of Britain’s inaugural satellite launch, a plane took off from Cornwall Airport in Newquay, Cornwall, UK on January 9, 2023. However, this mission ended in disappointment.
The rocket, measuring 21 metres long, was propelled with nine mini satellites inside, which would have been the first to be sent into space from either the United Kingdom or the entirety of Western Europe.
The Start Me Up mission’s organizers soon noticed a “deviation” and reported that LauncherOne had not achieved an orbit.
Sir Richard Branson’s establishment declared in a statement that early indications showed that the rocket’s first stage functioned as anticipated, reaching the altitude of space, with stage detachment and the firing of the upper stage taking place as projected.
Later on in the mission, the upper stage encountered an issue when it was at a height of approximately 180km (112 miles), causing the first burn to end early.
The mission concluded with the rocket parts and cargo descending back to Earth within the authorized safety zone, not making it to orbit, according to the company.
The livestream of the event had an audience of over 75,000 people, and even more who made the journey to the Cornish location for the launch, but they were all left disappointed.
Before the holiday season, a technical mishap thwarted the first scheduled launch. Unfortunately, the latest effort also ended in failure.
Despite the setback, the US-based corporation has expressed that it is in talks with government entities and customers to attempt another mission from Spaceport Cornwall sometime later this year.
Crowds in Cornwall looked on the bright side after the launch of a momentous mission ended in disappointment. As one onlooker put it: “Space is hard”.
Virgin Orbit has instigated a formal investigation to identify the root cause of the mishap this week.
It is Cornwall spaceport that has been granted the first licence in the UK, and it is expected that more might be issued in the following years due to the rising interest of companies to send off small satellites.
Ian Annett, the deputy chief executive at the UK Space Agency, stated that two of the seven locations picked out were Snowdonia in North Wales and Glasgow Prestwick Airport.