Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit said on Thursday it would make another attempt to launch a rocket into orbit from Cornwall after Monday’s mission ended in failure, dashing Britain’s hopes of becoming the first European nation to send satellites into orbit.
“Virgin Orbit is anticipating a return to Spaceport Cornwall from where the rocket is expected to launch again, while in talks with key government and commercial stakeholders in the UK to plan a new mission this year,” it said in a statement.
The California-based company also announced that it had launched an official investigation into the source of the rocket failure.
The Start Me Up mission took off on schedule two days ago from the Cornwall Spaceport runway in Newquay, southwest England.
Virgin’s LauncherOne rocket was launched using a modified Boeing 747.
But shortly before midnight, a Virgin Orbit representative announced live that the rocket had suffered an “anomaly” that had prevented it from reaching orbit.
“It appears that an anomaly has prevented us from reaching orbit. We are studying the information,” Virgin Orbit announced on January 10.
The British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has authorized the company Virgin Orbit, partially owned by billionaire Richard Branson, to carry out the first British rocket launch into space.
Satellites were to be launched from Europe for the first time, and the British were to become the first European nation to send satellites into orbit.
The failure is a further blow to Europe’s space ambitions after Italy’s Vega-C rocket mission failed after liftoff from French Guiana in late December.