Virgin Orbit has announced a launch window for its maiden LauncherOne mission.
In a May 20 Twitter post, Virgin Orbit announced that the launch window for the first orbital test flight of the company’s LauncherOne rocket opens on May 24 from 17:00 to 21:00 UTC. The company also revealed it has a backup window on May 25.
The mission will see the 747 Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft with the LauncherOne rocket tucked under its wing depart from the Mojave Air and Space Port. The carrier aircraft will proceed over the Pacific ocean and when ready, release the 21-meter long two-stage rocket.
Once successfully released, the rocket’s single liquid-fueled NewtonThree rocket engine will fire propelling the LaunchOne skyward. Approximately three minutes later, the main engine will shut down and stage separation will occur. The rocket’s upper stage NewtonFour engine will then fire carrying the rocket into orbit.
If the flight is successful, Virgin Orbit will be the first to successfully launch an orbital-class liquid-fueled vehicle in flight.
The maiden LauncherOne mission will carry what Virgin Orbit described as a “test payload”. In a May 20 press release, the company explained that once deployed the payload would “take our data, and then quickly de-orbit so as not to clutter the heavens.”
Although the company’s press release was optimistic, it acknowledged that “maiden flights have statistically ended in failure about half of the time.”