Monday, January 9, 2023

Virgin Orbit Didn't Make It

For a while this afternoon, a couple of hours actually, I had two YouTube live feeds playing; the LabPadre Rover 2 Camera and Virgin Orbit's coverage of "Start Me Up."   

The rollout of Virgin Orbit's Boeing 747, Cosmic Girl, seemed to go nominally through the release of Launcher One, and the mission clicked off milestones by the book through Main Engine Cut Off.  After MECO, though, I was watching their animations of the returning telemetry and saw some things that just made me say, "that doesn't look right" which they explained away (plausibly) by saying the telemetry was being lost. Since the mission had a short second stage burn to be followed by a long coast and another burn, I wandered away.  When I came back the chat had turned to people asking, "what happened?" and an anomaly was announced.  

No more detail or clarification has come out.

While I feel the need to stress that the activities at Starbase Boca Chica are not on the order of difficulty as achieving orbit, things there were rather more rewarding to watch. 

Yesterday, SpaceX rolled booster B7 back to the launch area from the shipyard area where these Starships are built.  It was Sunday afternoon, and while B7 was left on the transporter vehicle overnight, the chopsticks lifted and placed it on the orbital launch mount around sunrise.  Later today, Starship 24 was rolled over to the OLM area and S24 was lifted and stacked onto the booster.  This combination has been stacked and unstacked a few times, but I don't think I've seen it go this fast.

On the 7th, Elon Musk tweeted in response to another Twitter user's comment that a launch of the B7/S24 stack could be scheduled for January 31st, saying, "We have a real shot at late February. March launch attempt appears highly likely."  


  1. I think Musk's thoughts go something like this, "build it simple, build it strong, kick the tires and light the fires". Seems to work for him, don't know why other people don't follow that philosophy.

    1. Add to that: "And if it don't work, change something and try it again."
      Works OK when you have enough money.

  2. I heard about the Virgin failure and didn't hear any of the organic details. Thanks for throwing your cracker in the soup.