Virgin Orbit: American launch failure from Cornwall. Does the British Government have kerosene on its hands?

27th Jan 2023
Virgin Orbit: American launch failure from Cornwall. Does the British Government have kerosene on its hands?

Following on from the recent Virgin flight (you see what we did there?) of the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 with the Launcher One rocket attached, new information has suggested British Government interference may have put the launch (and potentially lives) at risk. Thankfully the rocket itself was unmanned and nobody was hurt. The only real damage caused was the financial hit to the UK taxpayer and the clients who had satellites onboard – as well as the damage to Virgin Orbit’s reputation.

We recently published a report following the failed rocket launch by US company, Virgin Orbit. Our in-depth analysis exposed some significant failings from the project, which was lauded by the Conservative government of the UK as the first rocket launch from UK soil and even after the rocket crashed into the sea, they went on national television and proclaimed the launch a massive success (clue: it wasn’t). We have now looked at further information that has come to light, suggesting that the government pushed for the launch to go ahead despite concerns from staff. They apparently were in need of “a good news story” and as our analysis had shown, this would tie in with our own view that it was a very dishonest PR stunt.

Articles in the mainstream UK press have suggested that a leaked transcript from either Spaceport Cornwall or Virgin Orbit staff, show that the launch only had a 50/50 chance of success and that the team weren’t ready. The same articles have also suggested that it went ahead under pressure from the Conservative government, regardless of the risks highlighted.

According to an article in the Express newspaper, the team had identified a problem during their dress rehearsal only five days prior to the launch. Read the full article here…

It has also been suggested that the launch licence (issued only days prior to the event) was “rushed through” by the Civil Aviation Authority, potentially under pressure from politicians.

We expect this story to run for quite some time now as the stakeholders conduct an investigation into what went wrong. But one thing we suspect may actually come out of this is the prospect that Virgin Orbit may not launch from UK again.

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