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Virgin Orbit Cleared For First LauncherOne Drop Test

Completed Final Captured Carry Test Tuesday

Virgin Orbit is ready to move to the next phase of testing for its LauncherOne rocket after the completion of its final captured carry test of the booster.

The company says on its blog that on a flight "in the near future", it will "release a fully built, fully loaded LauncherOne rocket from Cosmic Girl for the first time."

The rocket is carried aloft under the wing of a modified Boeing 747. The company said that the test will primarily be focused on the release of LauncherOne to be sure it separates cleanly, and how it freefalls through the air.

"Cosmic Girl is ready, the test rocket is ready, the team is ready — and we’ll be flying as soon as we can coordinate the airspace over Edwards Air Force Base.  Stay tuned to our social media channels for updates on that flight, and on what comes next," the company said on its blog.

"Our first orbital rocket is fully built and has been extensively tested. Later this month, our integration team will wrap up that testing, mate the stages together, and then hand the rocket off to our launch operations team.

"After that, our LaunchOps crew will run through the checks and rehearsals any serious rocket company does in the lead up to a flight. We’ve already fired our engines, separated our stages, and (pretty soon) taken off and released the rocket from the carrier aircraft. The last piece of the puzzle is combining it all into a seamless launch. Everything we do from here on out will be to demonstrate that the system can operate safely as a fully integrated whole — and that the people on our team have thought of and practiced everything they could ever need to do on launch day."

(Images provided by Virgin Orbit)



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