A missile launched from the wing of an aircraft reaches space


Virgin Orbit, owned by British billionaire Richard Branson, successfully sent a missile into space for the first time, Sunday, after it was launched from one of the wings of a Boeing 747, opening the way for a new way to put small satellites into orbit. This is the second attempt by Virgin Orbit, after a first failed one in May.
The company wrote at 20:49 GMT: “Longhorn has reached orbit! All the team members not involved in mission control operations are now crazy. ” The plane took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles, California, as it launched its missile over the Pacific Ocean.
Founded by Richard Branson in 2012, Virgin Orbit seeks to provide a fast and adaptive missile launch service with small satellites weighing between 300 kg and 500 kg, a rapidly growing market.
The “Virgin Orbit” missile, 21 meters long, called “Longherwan”, does not take off vertically but is installed under one of the wings of a modified Boeing 747 called “Cosmic Girl”.
Once at the appropriate altitude, the plane drops the missile that drives its own engine into space and puts its charge into orbit.
Launching a missile from an aircraft is much easier than vertical take-off, as it is theoretically sufficient to have a regular runway instead of an expensive space launch pad.
Richard Branson created another space company, Virgin Galactic, which aspires to send tourists into space to conduct experiments in areas of zero gravity, about eighty kilometers from the Earth’s surface.


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