Virgin Orbit is confident that they are a significant step closer to launching a rocket into Earth’s orbit, after a successful test launch procedure test on April 13th.

Virgin conducted the test on the LauncherOne rocket which, when in service, will climb to an altitude of 35,000 feet aboard a modified 747-400, nicknamed ‘Cosmic Girl’. The aircraft will subsequently pitch upward and release the rocket to fire into orbit.

According to The Verge, Virgin filled LauncherOne up with liquid nitrogen for the test; which is similar in temperature to the extremely cold liquid oxygen propellant the rocket will carry, when it is set to fly.

After taking off from the Mojave Desert, Cosmic Girl conducted all the planned procedures for the rocket’s launch; however, the rocket was not launched.

The aircraft flew to the exact point over the Pacific Ocean where LauncherOne will be dropped during its first test. In a statement, Virgin Orbit said that the test was a success and will pave the way for upcoming test flights.

The modified Boeing 747-400 used. Picture: Virgin Orbit

“We’ve successfully completed our pull-up manoeuvre and simulated drop. Everything has looked good thus far on this capstone launch rehearsal. Cosmic Girl heading back to base. All systems are healthy and nominal.”

Virgin Orbit statement

Sources: Johnathan O’Callaghan (Forbes), The Verge, and Virgin Orbit. Feature Image: Virgin Orbit