Washington DC, May 25 (efe-epa).- The debut launch of a Virgin Orbit rocket from California, United States on Monday failed due to an “anomaly” during the first stage of the flight, the company said.
The firm of British magnate Richard Branson confirmed on its Twitter account that a “clean release” had been achieved of the LauncherOne rocket from its carrier 747 aircraft dubbed Cosmic Girl. The aircraft was designed to carry the rocket under one of its wings, taking off from the Mojave Air and Space Port base north of Los Angeles.
“However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight. Cosmic Girl and our flight crew are safe and returning to base,” the company added.
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said in a statement that they had “accomplished many of the goals we set for ourselves, though not as many as we would have liked. Nevertheless, we took a big step forward today.”
Virgin Orbit said that both “the carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl and all of its crew landed safely at Mojave Air and Space Port, concluding the mission.”
A company spokesperson said that the rocket fell into the Pacific Ocean, American broadcaster CNN reported.
“Our engineers are already poring through the data. Our next rocket is waiting. We will learn, adjust, and begin preparing for our next test, which is coming up soon,” Hart added.
The company aims to carve out a share of the market for small-satellite launches.
Without providing details, Virgin Orbit said in the statement that its next rocket is “in final stages of integration” at its manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California, and that they have a “half-dozen” more rockets for “subsequent missions not far behind.”
“Virgin Orbit’s decision to begin production of multiple rockets well in advance of this test flight will enable the team to progress to the next attempt at a significantly faster pace, shortly after making any necessary modifications to the launch system,” the statement concluded.
In another tweet, the company, which is part of the Virgin Group, said that the “team’s already hard at work digging into the data, and we’re eager to hop into our next big test ASAP.”
Elon Musk, founder of rocket company SpaceX offered his condolences over the failed mission.
“Sorry to hear that. Orbit is hard. Took us four attempts with Falcon 1,” he tweeted in reference to SpaceX’s first launch vehicle. EFE-EPA