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Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit reaches space
ByHarshal 18 Jan 2021 07:37 AM 42

On Sunday, Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit reached space, eight months after a failed demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system.

70-foot-long LauncherOne rocket was released from Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California and soared toward space.

The two-stage rocket contained a cluster of very small satellites called CubeSats developed and built as part of a NASA educational program involving U.S. universities.

The launch occurred after the Boeing 747-400 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out over the Pacific Ocean to a drop point beyond the Channel Islands.

Virgin Orbit tweeted, "According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!"

"Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going bonkers."

The rocket's upper stage was scheduled to coast for a period and then relight to circularize the orbit before deploying the satellites.

Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is part of a group of companies interested in launching small satellites, which may range in sizes comparable to a toaster on up to a home refrigerator.

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