Virgin Orbit fails on first rocket launch attempt, 'next big test ASAP' for Richard Branson’s spaceflight firm

GIF: Liftoff, courtesy Virgin Orbit

Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit failed on its first rocket launch attempt, which took place out of the Mojave Spaceport in Southern California.

The small satellite launcher's first live launch test took place on Monday, May 25, the Memorial Day holiday in the United States.

In a series of tweets, the company stated:

In this first launch demo, we successfully completed all of our pre-launch procedures, captive carry flight out to the drop site, clean telemetry lock from multiple dishes, a smooth pass through the racetrack, terminal count, and a clean release from the aircraft.

LauncherOne maintained stability after release, and we ignited our first stage engine, NewtonThree. An anomaly then occurred early in first stage flight. We'll learn more as our engineers analyze the mountain of data we collected today.

As we said before the flight, our goals today were to work through the process of conducting a launch, learn as much as we could, and achieve ignition. We hoped we could have done more, but we accomplished those key objectives today.

The team's already hard at work digging into the data, and we're eager to hop into our next big test ASAP. Thankfully, instead of waiting until after our 1st flight to tackle our 2nd rocket, we've already completed a ton of work to get us back in the air and keep moving forward.

More from observers of the failed launch:

Image courtesy @Virgin_Orbit