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Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Virgin Orbit
Posted at 7:44 PM, Jan 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-17 21:44:30-05

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit has reached space eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed.

The company says a 70-foot-long LauncherOne rocket released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 aircraft off the coast of Southern California reached orbit Sunday.

The rocket carried a cluster of very small satellites developed as part of a NASA educational program involving U.S. universities.

Virgin Orbit attempted its first demonstration launch in May 2020. That rocket was released and ignited but only briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting. The company determined there was a breach in a high-pressure liquid oxygen line.