Break in fuel line caused LauncherOne failure


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Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit has determined that a break in the oxygen feed line in its LauncherOne rocket caused the failure during its first orbital test flight in late May.

Speaking at a webinar organized by the Space Generation Advisory Council, an organization for young space industry professionals, Dan Hart said the demonstration mission for the LauncherOne rocket May 25 went well until several seconds after the ignition of the NewtonThree engine that powers the rocket’s first stage. “We had a component break in our engine system. It was a high-pressure feed line,” he said. Liquid oxygen “stopped going into the engine and our flight was terminated.”

The company has performed an investigation and identified what needs to be fixed in the engine to strengthen the components that failed. A second LauncherOne rocket is in final integration right now and will be leaving the factory in the next few weeks while modifications to the engine continue. “We’ll be targeting our next flight before the end of the year,” Hart said.

They need to meet that schedule, as in the past few years they have consistently failed to fly when promised.

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