‘Anomaly’ thwarts UK attempt to put satellites into space | Space News

The rocket carried under the wing of a modified Boeing 747 separated from the aircraft but failed to reach orbit.

The first attempt to launch a satellite from Western Europe appears to have failed after an “anomaly” was reported to have prevented the rocket from reaching orbit.

Virgin Orbit – owned by a consortium that includes the UK Space Agency and British aviation magnate Richard Branson – is trying to send nine small satellites into space from a 70-foot (21-meter) rocket. ) mounted below the wing of a modified Boeing 747. .

The reusable jumbo jet took off from the coastal town of Newquay in southwestern England at 22:02 GMT on Monday, with the rocket separating from the plane and burning up over the Atlantic Ocean at 10,670 meters (35,000 feet) for about an hour and 20 minutes. afterward.

But Virgin Orbit later said there was an “anomaly that prevented us from reaching orbit”; it says it will provide more information when possible.

The UK’s space industry employs 47,000 people, but while the country is second only to the US in the number of satellites it produces, they’ve long had to be put into orbit via satellites. foreign spaceflight operated by countries such as the United States and Kazakhstan.

More than 2,000 space fans gathered to cheer as the plane took off from the runway in Newquay.

Virgin Orbit said the giant plane returned safely to Newquay from the mission.


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