Recently Virgin Orbit launched its LauncherOne rocket to the orbit. This is the first successful flight of the rocket. Earlier an unsuccessful launch attempt was made by May 2020.
- It is a 2-stage orbital launch vehicle. It is an air-launched rocket. It is capable of carrying small satellite payloads up to 300 kg. The LauncherOne rocket is carried to the upper atmosphere on Boeing 747 called “Cosmic Girl”. During the first attempt by May 2020, LauncherOne failed to reach the space.
- During the second launch, the LauncherOne delivered 10 CubeSats to the Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
- It is the first all liquid fuelled air-launched orbital rocket.
- It places the satellites in Sun Synchronous Orbit.
About Sun Synchronous Orbit
It is nearly a polar orbit around a planet. In this orbit, the satellite passes over a given point at the same local mean solar time. That is, it maintains the same relationship with the sun every year. This orbit is generally used for spying and imaging.
They are miniature satellites for space research. They are made of multiple cubic modules that are of 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm size.
About ElaNa 20
The launch of 10CubeSats by LauncherOne is a part of ElaNa Mission. ElaNa is an Educational Launch of Nanosatellites. The mission made partnerships with the universities in the USA to launch research satellites called CubeSats. ElaNa 1 was launched in the year 2011. It carried 3 CubeSats. LauncherOne is the 20th mission of ElaNa programme.
The LauncherOne was launched by Air Launch to Orbit method. In this method, the rockets are launched at an altitude from a conventional aircraft. The aircraft carries the rocket to the low earth orbit and the rocket is then launched from there. This reduced the mass, thrust and cost of the rocket as compared to the conventional vertical rocket launches.
LauncherOne launched by Virgin Orbit