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Full Version: Virgin Orbit Progress
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Virgin Orbit is a sister company to Virgin Galactic. (Richard Branson again.) The idea is to launch satellites using rockets carried to high altitude by large aircraft. It's like a less ambitious version of Stratolaunch, using a 747 instead of that surrealistic twin-hull Stratolaunch 'Roc'.

Stratolaunch could even theoretically launch astronauts into orbit with big rockets from their giant plane. But Virgin Orbit is limited to smaller satellites like those launched by Rocket Lab from New Zealand. There's apparently a market for "affordable" price launches of small satellites. (Satellites are like mobile-phones, as you pack capabilities into them, they've been getting smaller.)

Virgin Orbit has been building their own rockets in Long Beach and conducting rocket engine test-fires at Mojave Airport (where else??).

https://twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/...1050457103

Now yesterday they seem to have flown their aircraft from Mojave with a rocket under its wing, to assess weights, aircraft handling characteristics and stuff.

https://twitter.com/Virgin_Orbit/status/...2228665344

Virgin Orbit photo:

[Image: D5CSN8FUIAAPSto.jpg]

They say:

"This flight is a prequel to our own endgame - closing out our final stage hotfires and the last few flights in our captive carry test campaign, now with a fully loaded rocket underwing. After that, a drop test, then it's showtime for our first flight to orbit!"