The first launch from the ground of Western Europe failed, and the rocket was not launched into orbit

A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 takes off with a LauncherOne rocket from Cornwall.A.P.’s photo

It was supposed to be the first in space travel. On Monday evening, the Virgin Orbit space company launched a LauncherOne rocket over the Atlantic Ocean. However, the missile failed to enter orbit, The company reports itself. What exactly went wrong is not yet clear. The Virgin Orbit team spoke of an “anomaly”.

This mission, dubbed “Start Me” after a Rolling Stones song, will be the first satellite to be put into Earth orbit from Western Europe. Previously, space organizations used the launch site outside Europe, for example Cape Canaveral in America, Bajkonoer in Kazakhstan or Kourou in French Guiana.

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At eleven o’clock Dutch time, a Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl takes off with a rocket under its wing. Flying west from Newquay Airport, in southwest England, LauncherOne launched over the Atlantic Ocean just after midnight, igniting the rocket’s engines. About a quarter to one it became clear that the rocket would not enter orbit. Cosmic Girl returned safely. LauncherOne was to put nine satellites into Earth orbit.

According to Eric Lan, an expert at the Eye on Orbit space advisor, the launch should be a “historic moment.” According to him, the Virgin Orbit system has many advantages. It allows you to travel to where you want to sit and pinpoint exactly where the satellite will land. In addition, the missile has less air resistance when it is a few kilometers above the ground.

The problems with exporting satellites are over

Thanks to the launch in Europe, organizations have no problems exporting their satellites, which would normally have to cross borders to the launch pad. It’s very bureaucratic. You have to provide insight into how your satellite works, while sometimes you want to keep it a secret, for example when launching a defense satellite. You are now bringing the launch to the client. from nine satellites Seven of them come from the UK itself.

However, Lan does not expect that we will see a missile launch from the Netherlands. I don’t see this Boeing 747 standing in line for all Transavia flights for holidays in Schiphol. Plus, you don’t want to fly over populated areas. The plane comes from England directly over the Atlantic Ocean. If something goes wrong, the rocket will end up at sea.

Limited carrying capacity

The biggest drawback of this launch is the limited carrying capacity. The missile can carry only 500 kilograms of cargo. A bigger rocket is not an option, the plane will not be able to lift it. For comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has a payload capacity of 22,800 kilograms.

From the UK, the launch was visible to only a few people. It is not yet known whether the launch was detected from the Netherlands. Lan predicted ahead of time that clouds and light pollution might impede vision. I live in Delft and overlook Westland. I won’t see much because of the orange glow of the greenhouse. This is why there is one for interested parties Live broadcast Enabled.

A LauncherOne missile being dropped from Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747 during a test in 2020. EPA photo

A LauncherOne missile being dropped from Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747 during a test in 2020.Environmental Protection Agency photo

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