Richard Branson’s company was a real sensation on Tuesday night. Virgin Orbit failed to reach space.
The plan was to launch satellites using a converted 747 jumbo jet that took off from an airport in England. The plane carried a space rocket under its wing.
The rocket fails and the satellites are now scraps on the ocean floor.
Had Virgin Orbit and founder Virgin Branson pulled it off, they would have made history. Then they worked to ensure that Great Britain became the first country in Europe to launch satellites from its territory.
Norway can win
At Andøya in Nordland, almost everything is now ready for the first launch. From what was once called the rocket launch field, the plan is to send satellites into space.
There were several launches on Andøya, but they were with relatively complex missiles. They could not put satellites into space.
– There were some bumps in the road, but we started, says Andoy Mayor Knut Nordmo.
He spoke of about 20 impact assessments and a number of challenges with state investments. The new facilities and buildings are now ready.
– That would be exciting. What we also worry about, says Nordmo, is what comes from the cascading effects in the form of tourism and jobs.
End of year
The satellites will be launched from what is now called the Andoja spaceport.
We took over the buildings last week. Something is still missing from the launch pad, says Andøya Spaceport general manager Ingun Berget.
The plan was for a long time the first launch to be implemented this year.
– That’s still the goal. We’ll complete the platform during the spring, Berget says, and then it should be ready for launch by the end of the year.
More about bones
Virgin Orbit It may still have ambitions to carry out launches from the UK. Before, they had four successful launches in the USA. If they find the bug, and if the agents are on board, there could be another European attempt soon.
in Shetland SaxaVord Spaceport Far ahead on the road. Their plan is also slated to launch at the end of this year.
The Swedes open the so-called Spaceport Sweden Friday this week. The facility is located in Kiruna.
– They have not yet shared any information about which launchers will be launched from Kiruna, so the question is open about when they will actually be ready, says Birgitte of the Swedes.
Depends on the client
What is now Andøya Spaceport’s customer is the German company ISAR Aerospace.
They are developing the Spectrum launch vehicle. It can launch a thousand kilograms into low Earth orbit.
– Yes, the plan is that the rocket will be ready for the first launch this year, says Joseph Fleischmann. He is the Director of Operations at ISAR.
Joseph talks about a long series of tests left and a long series of tests they had.
A lot can go wrong when developing something new. If we have to change something significant with the engines, for example, it might take time, says Fleischmann, but we’re very optimistic.
Race is not important
– I understand that there is a race in space, but the important thing is for the spaceport to become sustainable for both Andøya, Norway and the environment, says Berget.
It really believes Virgin Orbit will try again, and that it will happen before anyone else in Europe is ready.
– What they do is launch missiles from planes. He is not like us. We send straight from the ground. I still think we have a good chance of being the first to do so, says Birgitte.
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