LauncherOne falls short on its first launch attempt

Cosmic Girl deploying LauncherOne on its ill-fated first flight. Credit: Virgin Orbit

This article will be updated with more information as it is released.
Edit 2:19 p.m.: Further description of anomaly and timeline of events.
Edit 5:46 p.m.: Virgin Orbit has released a statement on the flight.

MAY 25, 2020–LauncherOne has fallen short of orbit today after an unsuccessful launch attempt over the Los Angeles coast.

Everything leading up to the release of LauncherOne was nominal, however, for unknown reasons the mission terminated “shortly into the flight”, at 12:52 p.m. Pacific time.

Cosmic Girl, the carrier craft, took off at 11:56 a.m. today from Mojave Air and Space Port. It entered the “racetrack” holding position at 12:34 p.m., where it completed a cold pass of the drop point with LauncherOne. LauncherOne successfully detected it was in the drop zone, and other systems were verified as nominal.

At 12:50 p.m., Cosmic Girl climbed approximately eight thousand feet in the span of a minute and released LauncherOne. LauncherOne “maintained stability after release”, and the NewtonThree engine ignited aboard the first stage. An “anomaly” then occurred after stage one ignition.

Image
LauncherOne #2 is built and ready for testing. Credit: Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit is quickly recovering, however, and hard at work digging into the data. The next LauncherOne rocket is built and ready for “system-level testing.”

Cosmic Girl and its crew are safe and home at Mojave Air and Space Port. The flight path can be found on flightaware.com.

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