5 reasons why are we so excited about "Horizontal Launch"
(1) Horizontal launch is typically operated out of an airport - allowing huge flexibility in the choice and variety of launch locations.
(2) It provides a platform where the launch aircraft may fly over adverse weather - reducing delayed launches due to weather considerations as the plane just navigates to a location from where it releases a rocket from underneath one of its wings.
(3) The rocket is dropped firstly, and then when safely away from the aircraft it ignites and lifts into space - an efficient method that can dramatically increase the volume of available launches (although it does have a weight requirement which makes it only relevant for small satellites).
(4) Lower fuel costs because the plane generates most of the energy needed - passing cost savings onto the customers
(5) This launch method also means the rockets can be taken to a variety of different locations for launch - offering the ability to get satellites into numerous orbits
Congratulations to the Virgin Orbit team on this triumph! We look forward to a future where launching a satellite is as easy as booking a flight.
Sir Richard Branson's rocket company Virgin Orbit has succeeded in putting its first satellites in space. Ten payloads in total were lofted on the same rocket, which was launched from under the wing of one of the entrepreneur's old 747 jumbos.