Virgin Orbit Plans for Second Launch After Failed Attempt

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Virgin Orbit Plans for Second Launch After Failed Attempt

Virgin Orbit announced plans for its second attempt to shoot its LauncherOne rocket into orbit on Dec. 19 carrying with it small NASA research satellites. The first attempt failed in May after a propellant line ruptured after the first-stage ignition.

The Richard Branson-founded company said it's run a list of tests and upgraded various systems in advance of next month's launch.


A Virgin Orbit carrier aircraft will take off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California and travel for about 45 minutes before releasing the rocket over the ocean. The launch is scheduled between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. PST.

The two-stage rocket was designed to carry satellites into low earth orbit. All 10 payloads set to be ferried into orbit were designed by U.S. universities working with NASA, including a rocket equipped with a space weather platform built by engineers at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo.

If conditions delay the launch, Virgin has backup windows on Dec. 20 and later in the month.

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