US rocket launch fails off the coast of Ireland

10th Jan 2023
US rocket launch fails off the coast of Ireland

American aerospace company, Virgin Orbit, initially hailed their latest rocket launch a success with a tweet celebrating the launch, which they later deleted when it became clear the second stage of the Launcher One rocket wasn’t going to reach its required altitude.

The company created a significant build up to what they referred to as the first rocket launch from UK soil. Although that particular claim has some seriously heavy lifting to do, as what actually took off from the Cornwall Spaceport was a Boeing 747 with the rocket attached to the underside of one of its wings.

The plane took off to a huge round of applause by the hundreds of (mostly American) onlookers and climbed to 35,000 feet somewhere across the Atlantic. Where it eventually released the rocket just south of Ireland. The US-built Launcher One rocket then ignited its engines once the plane was clear and headed into its intended orbit.

Boeing 747 flight route on flight radar

The first stage carried it so far before falling away and allowing the second stage to carry the payload into a final orbit of 500km above earth. However, an anomaly prevented the second stage and the nine satellites onboard from reaching their orbit. And as a result, the rocket and its multi million pound payload of mostly military satellites plummeted back to earth, likely burning up on re-entry and what remained will have fallen into the sea.

The UK Government funded outfit were of course devastated at the failed launch as we would imagine were their first paying customers.

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