The American space company Virgin Orbit was able to launch a rocket from a flying Boeing 747 into space on Sunday. At an altitude of about 10 kilometres, the missile was disconnected from the aircraft and then brought ten NASA satellites into orbit around the Earth.
Virgin herself shared these footage of the launch:
Virgin Orbit, the space company of famous businessman Richard Branson, is supposed to join the commercial market to bring satellites into orbit. In that market SpaceX, from Tesla top man Elon Musk, is now the most famous player.
Virgin Orbit takes a very different path than the competition to achieve that goal. While other space companies launch a rocket from the ground, Virgin Orbit uses a converted Boeing 747 for launch. This one takes off with a rocket under its wings. Once at altitude, the 21-metre-long rocket is then launched towards space.
Virgins plane, called Cosmic Girl, took off yesterday in California and threw off the rocket over the Pacific. The company is satisfied with the mission and speaks in a statement of an “ideal” launch. Eight months ago, the first demonstration flight failed. The company wants to switch to commercial assignments for the next mission.