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Virgin Orbit's Rocket Suffers Anomaly, Misses Orbit Target

On Jan. 10, Western Europe's first orbital satellite launch departed smoothly around 10pm local time, with the nine satellites being carried by a retrofitted Boeing 747. The 747 climbed to FL350 and entered a hold, awaiting clearance to launch the satellites. An hour and fifteen minutes after its departure, the clearance was given, and the rocket launched. The rocket went hypersonic as it travelled along its scheduled flight plan, overflying Antarctica and Australia. The rocket was supposed to do a "final burn" to put the satellites into low Earth orbit, but a "anomaly" during stage-two ignition occurred, ultimately missing its target. The 9 satellites were set to orbit and help prevent terrorism and illegal smuggling, as well as study environmental impacts of production. One of the satellites belonged to the country of Wales, its first satellite ever. Once the launch is successful, it will make Britain the first country in Europe to launch a rocket on home soil, and making it the 11th country to accomplish the feat.

A photo from the Launcer 2 demo.

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