[Update: Succesful orbit and payload deployment] How to watch Virgin Orbit’s second flight of 2021

virgin orbit launcherone

This morning Virgin Orbit is attempting their third flight of the LauncherOne air-launched vehicle. This will be the first operational flight of the vehicle after their successful Demo-2 mission in January.

Date: Wednesday, June 30th, 10:47 a.m. EDT (Drop and Launch)

Rocket: Virgin Orbit LauncherOne

Carrier Aircraft: Cosmic Girl (Boeing 747)

Destination: Low Earth Orbit

Landing Site: None (expendable rocket), Cosmic Girl will land back at Mojave Air and Space Port

Tubular Bells, Part One

This mission will launch a collection of smallsats for several governments, including Brik-II which is the first satellite for the Royal Netherlands Air Forces. The mission starts with LauncherOne and Cosmic Girl, Virgin Orbit’s converted 747 to carry the rocket, at Mojave Air and Space Port.

Once teams have cleared the rocket and payload ready for flight, Cosmic Girl will take off and fly in a holding pattern, known as the Race Track. Once the conditions are right, teams will give the go-ahead for the 747 pilots to pitch up and release the rocket from the left wing of the airplane.

View of Demo-2 during launch. Credit: Virgin Orbit

If successful, this would put LauncherOne in a strong position to compete with the likes of Astra, Rocket Lab, and others in the smallsat launch industry.

Live Updates

Wednesday, June 30th, 1:32 p.m. EDT: Virgin confirms that the mission successfully launched the payloads into their correct orbit and deployed the satellites.

Wednesday, June 30th, 11:54 a.m. EDT: The public stream will be ending. All things are been reported as nominal but will take a while for them to confirm payload deployment and the second second stage burn.

Wednesday, June 30th, 11:31 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl has touched back down in Mojave.

Wednesday, June 30th, 11:21 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl is now in sight of ground cameras in Mojave.

Wednesday, June 30th, 11:10 a.m. EDT: Branson kissed Hart on the cheek.

Wednesday, June 30th, 11:09 a.m. EDT: Richard Branson and Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart are currently speaking on stream about their joy of seeing it launch.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:59 a.m. EDT: Here is a view of the current status of LauncherOne.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:58 a.m. EDT: Virgin Orbit is letting the FAA know they can release the Temporary Flight Restrictions over the airspace used for the launch.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:56 a.m. EDT: The second engine has shut down and LauncherOne has begun its BBQ roll.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:56 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl is currently on her way back to Mojave Air and Space Port after completing her part of the mission flawlessly.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:55 a.m. EDT: One minute from SECO: Second Engine Cut-Off.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:55 a.m. EDT: LauncherOne has just reached an altitude of 700,000 feet.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:53 a.m. EDT: We are halfway through the burn of the second stage engine.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:53 a.m. EDT: Second Stage trajectory is so far nominal.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:51 a.m. EDT: Second stage engine ignition and fairing separation confirmed.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:51 a.m. EDT: Stage Separation.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:51 a.m. EDT: LauncherOne is now throttling down.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:48 a.m. EDT: First stage engine burn is nominal, we have passed max-q already.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:47 a.m. EDT: First engine ignition confirmed.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:47 a.m. EDT: Drop Confirmed.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:47 a.m. EDT: Drop Ready.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:44 a.m. EDT: Battery power has been enabled on the rocket.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:42 a.m. EDT: T-5 minutes from drop and launch. All things are green for launch still.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:39 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl has begun turning into what Virgin calls the “Hot Pass”. This is the final part of the flight where the pilots take control of the rocket and pitch up to drop and launch LauncherOne.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:37 a.m. EDT: Virgin has begun chilling the engines on LauncherOne. We are 10 minutes away from the drop and all things look good still.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:31 a.m. EDT: Terminal count has been initiated.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:30 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl has entered the Race Track and is 1 minute away from terminal count. All things show green (go) for launch.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:22 a.m. EDT: Virgin Orbit founder Richard Branson announced the intended drop time of 10:47 a.m. EDT.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:21 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl continues to head toward the Race Track, all systems are still looking healthy.

Wednesday, June 30th, 10:06 a.m. EDT: The chase plane that will capture the launch of the vehicle has taken off.

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:58 a.m. EDT: As Cosmic Girl leaves the airspace, Virgin shared a view of the flight from LauncherOne’s flight camera.

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:53 a.m. EDT: And we have wheels up of Cosmic Girl. Currently, the 747 is on its way to the Pacific Ocean to enter the Race Track.

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:52 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl has begun its takeoff roll on Runway 30 at Mojave Air and Space Port.

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:48 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl will begin taxiing to its runway for liftoff.

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:43 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl pilot Eric Bippert, announced they will begin a 5 minute idle of the engines before takeoff.

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:38 a.m. EDT: Cosmic Girl has been given the go to take off and has begun rolling down the runway. Correction: Cosmic Girl has moved down the runway to pick up Virgin’s flight team. They will monitor the rocket while in flight.

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:22 a.m. EDT: The LauncherOne rocket is now fully fueled with RP-1, rocket-grade kerosene, and liquid oxygen.

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:10 a.m. EDT: Virgin Orbit’s Red Team, or Wolf Pack, have begun disconnecting LauncherOne from the ground support equipment.

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