Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Virgin Orbit announced that the first launch of a missile into outer space from British territory failed due to a “defect” that appeared before the missile reached orbit.
On Monday, a modified Boeing 747 of Virgin Orbit took off from Newquay, Cornwall, England, 245 miles west of London, in the first launch from UK soil. But nearly two hours after the plane left Earth and the rocket launched its engines into space, the company announced the failure of the launch.
Christopher Ralph, Virgin Orbit’s director of systems engineering and verification, said in a live broadcast of the launch: “It appears that auncherOne has suffered a shortcoming that will prevent us from reaching orbit for this mission.”
LauncherOne is the name of the air-launched missile that detached from under the wing of a Virgin Orbit plane.
There were no people, only satellites, on board the rocket, which lifted off the 747 with no problem at first. Ralph confirmed earlier that the missile was flying towards its orbit, preparing for the second ignition stage of its engine, but later revealed that the matter did not work as intended.
He added, “We are looking into the information and data we obtained, and we will provide more later.”
Virgin Orbit said in a tweet on Twitter: “It appears that we had a glitch that prevented us from reaching orbit, and we are evaluating the information.” The company confirmed that the plane and its crew returned safely to Earth after its launch, Monday.
The aim of that operation was the first successful launch from the United Kingdom, although technically, the missile was designed to be fired while the Cosmic Girl was in mid-air, and the aircraft had traveled about 35,000 feet (10.7 km) before launching the missile under its wing.
It was not immediately clear why the missile failed. While the launch was intended to be the first for Virgin Orbit outside the US territory.
And “Virgin Orbit” is a commercial satellite company in Western Europe, and a subsidiary of the “Virgin” group, which is owned by billionaire Richard Bronson.
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