The reason for the failure of the first launch of the rocket LauncherOne at the end of may was the failure in the fuel system where the engine has ceased to flow oxygen and his work stopped, said the head of the Virgin Orbit. The company’s specialists have already collected a second missile with the made modifications and are planning to launch it before the end of the year.
LauncherOne is a two-stage light carrier rocket launched not with the ground of the spaceport, and with the aircraft carrier Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl: the aircraft lifts the rocket to a height of 10 kilometers and resets, then it includes your engine. This allows the rocket to pass the first 10 kilometers of atmosphere maximum density and start flying in a more rarefied layer. According to calculations, at the start near the coast of California, which is the main Virgin spaceport Orbit, the rocket will be able to display the 500-pound payload into orbit with a height of 300 kilometers, and at the start closer to the equator can use a higher orbit and the mass of the load.
The first launch of LauncherOne on 25 may 2020. After the departure of the aerospace port of Mojave plane flew near the launch over the Pacific ocean about 150 miles off the coast and dropped a missile. Initially, the flight is going according to plan: the rocket started the engine and began to climb up to change the thrust vector, but after nine seconds, the engine shut down and the rocket fell into the ocean.
On July 22 webinar Advisory Board of space generation (SGAC) CEO Dan HART (Dan Hart) told some details about the incident. Since the missile is not destroyed until the fall into the ocean, experts were able to gather a lot of data and to establish the cause. It turned out that after the launch of the fuel line high pressure, the feed liquid oxygen into the engine, destroyed. Because of this, the engine stopped oxidizer and its work stopped.
HART also said that the company’s engineers are already working to build missiles with reinforced tubing of the fuel system and expect to complete Assembly in a few weeks. Repeated attempt of start should take place before the end of the year.
One of the main competitors is the American LauncherOne rocket Electron. She made 11 successful launches and two failed: one of them was the first flight of the rocket in 2017, and the second, the last to date, occurred in early July. Like most missiles, the Electron takes off from the ground of the spaceport, but in the future it will get a noticeable contrast to almost all existing rockets: the return on the parachute in the first stage. In April, the company-developer of Rocket Lab have conducted successful tests with the layout of the stage, which at first descended by parachute and was then caught in the air by helicopter.