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AEROSPACE

Virgin Orbit to launch its first spaceflight on January 10th

Virgin Orbit to launch its first spaceflight on January 10th
The Siliconreview
07 January, 2021

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.