Why did Virgin Orbit drop a space rocket from an airplane?

Usually, space rockets are launched from groundcosmodromes like Baikonur, but this launch method is considered far from being the best. The fact is that during takeoff from the surface of the Earth, rockets are forced to lift themselves into the air on their own, spending a lot of fuel on it. The company Virgin Orbit, it seems, has found an alternative way to send rockets into Earth orbit. She proposes to launch them directly from the air, using a large aircraft. So, according to representatives of the company, the rocket will go into orbit much faster and spend a minimum of fuel.

Recently, the company tried to raise its ownLauncherOne rocket using a Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft. The design of the airliner was slightly modified - special mounts were installed under its wings to hold the rocket, which can release it at any desired moment. The rocket compartment occurred at a 10-kilometer altitude, but it did not turn on the engine and go into near-earth orbit, but simply fell into the territory of the US Air Force.

How do they launch rockets?

The fall was planned in advance becausethe company was initially not going to put a rocket into orbit. During this test, she wanted to find out what happens to the aircraft and the rocket after separation. As it turned out, nothing terrible happens at the same time, so the company can safely launch a full-fledged launch at the end of 2019.

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To ensure the safety of pilots, the companyI did not fill the rocket with real fuel, but filled the tanks with a mixture of water and antifreeze. Such caution is probably related to the tragedy of 2014, when the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft crashed during tests in California. During this incident, one of the pilots died.

Virgin Galactic tragedy

The 2014 test was extremely similar tothe present one - the company wanted to launch the SpaceShipTwo using almost the same aircraft. However, when separated from the aircraft, the ship exploded and fell to Earth. After this incident, the company did not dare to continue the tests for a long time, because the SpaceShipTwo was designed to bring ordinary people into space, so she had to seriously work on his safety.

Fall SpaceShipTwo

Who is Richard Branson?

Virgin Orbit and Virgin Galactic are basedone of the richest men in Britain, Richard Branson. During his life, the entrepreneur founded more than 400 companies that provide a variety of services. His first business, for example, was associated with the recording of songs, and now he is even engaged in space projects. About all the ups and downs of a businessman written in his own book, “To hell with everything! Take it and do it! ”- it is recommended for everyone to read it.

Perhaps Richard Branson knows how anyone elseprovide expensive services. Space flights that he wants to carry out for everyone (even for himself) will cost from 250 thousand dollars. It may seem that such money will agree to pay only a few, but for many rich people such a price would be very acceptable. Branson already has a lot of experience working with rich clients - he owns his own island called Necker, and often rents it out.

Recommended to read: Important lessons we learned from the crash of SpaceShipTwo

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