Virgin Orbit was a huge success on Sunday, with a test flight that not only achieved its goals Reaching space and orbit, but also getting payload on board for NASA, Is also marking its first commercial mission. The launch was a success in every possible relationship, which puts Virgin Orbit on track to become an active launch provider for small payloads for both commercial and defense customers.
Above, you can see the actual launch itself – the time the LauncherOne rocket is modified from ‘Cosmic Girl’, a modified Boeing 747 airliner that flies normally off a standard aircraft runway, and then a brutal one to drop the rocket. Heights at altitude, which then ignites its own engines and flies into the rest of space. Virgin Orbit’s launch model was designed to reduce barriers to carrying small payloads into the orbit of traditional vertical take-off vehicles, and this successful test flight model proves the tasks.
Virgin Orbit has now joined a small but growing group of private launch companies that have truly reached the space, and made it into orbit. This should be very good news for the small satellite launch market, which still has a much higher demand than supply. Virgin Orbit also offers something different from current launch providers such as SpaceX, which typically employs large payloads or must offer rideshare model missions to those with smaller spacecraft. LauncherOne design potentially means more demand, response and quick-current launch services for satellite operators.