Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket flies freely for the first time EVER in milestone drop test

Mail Online | 2/6/2018 | Reuters;Cheyenne Macdonald For
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Richard Branson’s satellite launch operation has passed one of its biggest milestones yet after a successful drop test of its first orbital flight rocket, LauncherOne.

Virgin One conducted a secretive test on Wednesday in California’s Mojave Desert, releasing updates on Twitter only just as it all began.

Updates - Firm - Plans - Person - Matter

Prior to the live updates, the firm declined to comment on its plans, though a person familiar with the matter told Reuters it planned to conduct the drop test on Wednesday.

The test relies on a modified Boeing 747 jetliner nicknamed Cosmic Girl, which carried the LauncherOne rocket beneath its wing.

Tuesday - Company - Website - Drop - Test

On Tuesday, the company said on its website that it planned the drop test 'in the very near future' but did not offer specifics.

Virgin Orbit, Firefly and U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab are among companies designing smaller or non-traditional systems to inject smaller satellites into orbit and meet growing demand.

Competition - Virgin - Orbit - Rocket - Lab

Competition is fierce. Virgin Orbit has fallen slightly behind Rocket Lab, which has already completed six orbital launches, though Virgin Orbit says its rocket can haul about twice the weight.

Branson may also be losing a competitor in Stratolaunch, which had designed a larger aircraft-and-rocket combo system but is shutting operations, Reuters reported in May.

Virgin - Orbit

Virgin Orbit also has a...
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