Hexbyte – Science and Tech Virgin Orbit preps the LauncherOne rocket for its first drop test – Engadget

Hexbyte – Science and Tech Virgin Orbit preps the LauncherOne rocket for its first drop test – Engadget

Hexbyte – Science and Tech

Ever wonder what #LauncherOne looks like from Cosmic Girl’s perspective? Here’s some more footage from our most recent captive carry flight test, featuring never-before-seen angles of our flying launchpad. pic.twitter.com/IqMNi5mK2x

— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) June 7, 2019

In fact, Virgin Orbit will release a fully built and fully loaded LauncherOne during that flight. The company says it will be gathering data on a lot of things, but the first drop test is mostly about the first few seconds after release. It’s how the company can find out whether the rocket can cleanly break free from its carrier aircraft, a modified 747, and how it can observe the LauncherOne free falling through the air.

“This upcoming drop test is a huge deal for our team. It represents the last major step of a development program we began in 2015, focused not just on designing a rocket but proving it out alongside the modified 747 that serves as our flying launchpad,” Virgin Orbit wrote in its announcement.

While there’s no definite date for the launch yet, the company’s carrier aircraft and test rocket are ready to go anytime. Virgin Orbit is just coordinating with authorities to secure the airspace over the Edwards Air Force Base before announcing when the flight will take place.