Virgin Orbit is all set to launch its spaceflight this Sunday for Launch Demo 2, its second attempt to send its LauncherOne rocket to space. Launch Demo 2 will lift off from Mojave Air and Space Port in southeastern California. The window on Sunday runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST (1800 to 2200 GMT; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time in California), the company stated.
Virgin Orbit has developed an air-launch system that can loft satellites weighing up to 1,100 lbs. (500 kilograms). That system consists of a modified Boeing 747 carrier plane, known as Cosmic Girl, and the two-stage, 70-foot-long (21 meters) rocket. As its name indicates, Launch Demo 2 will be Virgin Orbit's second crack at reaching space.
Launch Demo 2 was originally supposed to launch on either Dec. 19 or Dec. 20. However, the surging COVID-19 pandemic scuttled that plan; Virgin Orbit halted pre-launch preparations last month for safety's sake, ultimately rescheduling the test flight for this weekend. This air-launch strategy which is similar to the one employed by SpaceShipTwo, the passenger space plane flown by Virgin Orbit sister company Virgin Galactic offers improved flexibility and responsiveness.