LauncherOne launched by Virgin Orbit
Virgin Orbit recently launched its LauncherOne rocket to the orbit. This is the first successful flight of the rocket. Earlier an unsuccessful launch attempt was made in May 2020.
- LauncherOne is a two-stage orbital launch vehicle. It is an air-launched rocket. It is capable of carrying small satellite payloads up to 300 kilograms. The LauncherOne rocket is carried to the upper atmosphere on Boeing 747 called “Cosmic Girl”. During the first attempt in May 2020, LauncherOne failed to reach the space.
- During the recent second launch, the LauncherOne delivered ten CubeSats to the Low Earth Orbit.
- LauncherOne is the first all liquid fuelled air-launched orbital rocket.
- LauncherOne places the satellites in Sun Synchronous Orbit.
Sun Synchronous Orbit
The Sun synchronous Orbit is nearly a polar orbit around a planet. In this orbit, the satellite passes over a given point at the same local mean solar time. That is, it maintains the same relationship with the sun every year. This orbit is generally used for spying and imaging.
The CubeSats are miniature satellites for space research. They are made of multiple cubic modules that are of 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm size.
The launch of ten CubeSats by LauncherOne is a part of ElaNa Mission. ElaNa is Educational Launch of Nanosatellites. The mission made partnerships with the universities in the US to launch research satellites called CubeSats. ElaNa 1 was launched in 2011. It carried three CubeSats. LauncherOne is the 20th mission of ElaNa programme.
LauncherOne was launched by Air Launch to Orbit method. In this method, the rockets are launched at an altitude from a conventional aircraft. The aircraft carries the rocket to the low earth orbit and the rocket is then launched from there. This reduced the mass, thrust and cost of the rocket as compared to the conventional vertical rocket launches.
Category: Science & Technology Current Affairs