Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit Successfully Launches Rocket Into Space

A 21-metre-long LauncherOne rocket was released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California on Sunday, igniting moments later and soaring toward space. (Matt Hartman/The Associated Press)

Virgin Orbit is finally living up to its name.

British billionaire Richard Branson’s satellite-launching company successfully sent a rocket into space for the first time Sunday, following a failed attempt last year.

The California-based firm’s LauncherOne rocket flew into Earth’s orbit from over the Pacific Ocean and dropped off 10 satellites for NASA’s Launch Services Program, the company said.

The two-stage rocket was attached to the bottom of a customized 747-400 jet named “Cosmic Girl,” and then released from the plane in midair before igniting and making its way to space, according to the company.

“Virgin Orbit has achieved something many thought impossible,” Branson — who’s worth about $6.1 billion, according to Bloomberg — said in a news release announcing the successful launch.

“This magnificent flight is the culmination of many years of hard work and will also unleash a whole new generation of innovators on the path to orbit.”

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SOURCE: New York Post, Noah Manskar

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