The first private company to reach Mars may be Virgin Orbit (2 photos + video)

Competition is particularly tough inspace exploration. In China, the American agency NASA and SpaceX, Ilon Mask, a rival is emerging that can get ahead of all ambitious projects and the first among private companies to reach Mars. Virgin Orbit, part of Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson, has announced a plan for unmanned flight of cubesat (small satellites for space exploration). The aim of the project will be to study the Red Planet from orbit. The satellites will not be launched from ground-based spaceports, but from a special aircraft.

The project will be implemented in partnership withSatRevolution, a Polish satellite company, and several Polish universities that will develop cubsat by 2022. Earlier in 2018, Virgin Orbit, along with NASA, successfully launched and launched two cubesat into Mars. After the success achieved, it was decided to independently send to Mars own spacecraft, the weight of which will not exceed 50 kg, using the LauncherOne carrier.

A small rocket with a height of only 21 meters will belaunched from a specially refitted for this mission Boeing 747 Virgin Orbit aircraft, dubbed the Cosmic Girl. Starting from a great height will save the rocket fuel necessary to overcome the densest lower layers of the atmosphere. Perhaps the implementation of the Martian mission will require an additional step.

Upon reaching Mars, satellites will begin to studyatmosphere of the planet, take pictures or search for water. The developers plan to use cubsats also to study Venus and the asteroid belt.

Source: engadget