General, Research, Technology

Launching a rocket into space from an airplane: Virgin Orbit will do this May 24, 2020

Agree, living in an era of space exploration is verycool, because you can watch the launch of launch vehicles in real time right from home. Recently, British billionaire Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Orbit, announced plans to test an orbiting launch vehicle designed to launch satellites into Earth orbit in the sky over the Pacific Ocean on May 24. The tests will be the first for a company that has been preparing for this moment for many years. In the past, Virgin Orbit was part of another Branson company Virgin Galactic, but was later divided into several separate divisions that are part of the Virgin Group. Currently, the company works closely with numerous governments and international organizations. We tell you what you need to know about the launch, which will take place in just a few days.

LauncherOne is a project of an orbital launch vehicle launched into orbit of the Earth from an aircraft in the air.

First launch of Virgin Orbit

We already told you about the Virgin Orbit project andnumerous efforts that were preparing for the future launch for five whole years. Over the years, the company conducted hundreds of tests of rocket engines, as well as 20 test flights of the Boeing 747. Last July, my colleague Ramis Ganiev talked about dropping a space rocket from an airplane. This time, the rocket will be fueled, and its own engines will automatically start after the reset.

The start of the tests is scheduled for 10:00 GMT (12:00 Moscow time) May 24, 2020, with a four-hour window a day during which the actual take-off can take place. The mission will include the flight of a modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft with a launch device that will separate from the 747 Boeing and use its own rocket engines to complete the remainder of the flight into space.

It should be noted that the Virgin Orbit approachdiffers from traditional missile launches, and the use of a carrier aircraft does mean that it can take off from traditional runways. Agree, this is quite convenient and spaceports are not needed. And to keep abreast of the latest news and events from the world of science and high technology, subscribe to our news channel on Telegram!

LauncherOne Rocket - This is a two-stage expendable launch vehicle capable of carrying up to 500 kg. This is more than the load capacity of the Rocket Lab, but less than the Falcon 9 SpaceX.

It looks like a modernized Boeing 747

The concept that underlies Virgin's approachOrbit aims to reduce costs and increase the availability of launching small satellites into the orbit of our planet. It is estimated that launch costs are about $ 12 million per flight, which is a significant cost savings compared to traditional launch costs and even the cost of SpaceX missions. Recall, the cost of one launch starts at $ 62 million.

You will be interested: The new Virgin Galactic spacecraft carried out its first manned rocket flight

What are satellites for?

Astronomical satellites are designed toexploration of planets, galaxies and other space objects; meteorological satellites - for transmitting data for weather prediction, as well as for observing the climate on the planet. Needless to say, scientific research, communication, navigation, television are possible thanks to satellite devices in the orbit of our planet.

This is how the Virgin Orbit booster and booster look like

Virgin Orbit engineers understand that flyingtests of similar systems by government agencies and private companies statistically fail. In this case, the task is for the launch vehicle to fly as long as possible, allowing the on-board devices to collect as much useful information as possible. In the event of a successful launch into space, LauncherOne will launch an experimental load into orbit and descend from orbit so as not to interfere with other vehicles. The company hopes that everything will go well - this will also allow Virgin Orbit to begin launching for commercial customers in July this year.

A launch vehicle called Cosmic Girl will fly over the Pacific Ocean and launch a two-stage orbital launch vehicle at an altitude of about 10,500 kilometers.

As representatives in the official statement writecompany, if on May 24 LauncherOne rises to an altitude of 80 km, then this will be the first time this type of launch system reaches space. We at wish the British company successful trials and invite everyone to discuss this historic event in our Telegram chat!