Author Topic: "Start Me Up" launch failure: Massive blow to UK space flight industry?  (Read 2007 times)

Offline BGP Space Flight

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Late last night, Virgin Orbits Cosmic Girl 747 took off from Spaceport Cornwall, with Launcher One rocket attached under its wing. After an hours flight, Launcher One was dropped from about 35000ft, free falling for four seconds, before lighting its Newton 3 (N3) engine, heading for space. The first stage burned for three minutes before it was detached. The Newton four (N4) engine then lit, taking the rocket up to its intended apogee. Everything looked like the historic first flight from UK soil was a resounding success, however when the time came for the N4 engines to re-light to bring the rockets orbit perigee up to where it needed to be in order to place the nine satellites onboard, into their intended orbit. The N4 engine failed to re-light, due to this, the orbit was not achieved and the rocket fell back to earth, dropping into the Atlantic Ocean. This is a massive blow to the UK space flight industry, it may not have been a test flight, it was however a test to show that the UK was a viable site to launch from. With the failure of the lunch, on top of the massive delays while waiting for the Civil Aviation Authority to issue a licence, meaning the launch was five months later than intended, it could be a death blow to the UK industry.

[zubenelgenubi: Thread title edited and thread moved to a more appropriate sub-forum.  L2/YT membership benefits link questions splinter thread created and moved to moreappropriate sub-forum.]
« Last Edit: 01/10/2023 10:02 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline edzieba

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Re: Massive blow to UK space flight industry
« Reply #1 on: 01/10/2023 12:33 pm »
Late last night, Virgin Orbits Cosmic Girl 747 took off from Spaceport Cornwall, with Luncher One rocket attached under its wing. After an hours flight, Launcher One was dropped from about 35000ft, free falling for four seconds, before lighting its Newton 3 (N3) engine, heading for space. The first stage burned for three minutes before it was detached. The Newton four (N4) engine then lit, taking the rocket up to its intended apogee. Everything looked like the historic first flight from UK soil was a resounding success, however when the time came for the N4 engines to re-light to bring the rockets orbit perigee up to where it needed to be in order to place the nine satellites onboard, into their intended orbit. The N4 engine failed to re-light, due to this, the orbit was not achieved and the rocket fell back to earth, dropping into the Atlantic Ocean. This is a massive blow to the UK space flight industry, it may not have been a test flight, it was however a test to show that the UK was a viable site to launch from. With the failure of the lunch, on top of the massive delays while waiting for the Civil Aviation Authority to issue a licence, meaning the launch was five months later than intended, it could be a death blow to the UK industry.
1) The UK space industry is almost entirely in satellites and satellite components. The only other fledgling UK launch companies (Orbex and Skyrora) are not air-launched and are otherwise unrelated to Virgin Orbit.
2) LauncherOne is not built in or operated from the UK, nor does it use the majority (or even a minority of) UK manufactured components.
3) An upper stage failure says absolutely nothing about the suitability of a launch site (unless one is positing an errant Pasty was lodged in a turbopump inlet).
4) The "CAA delay" is fictitious.
5) There is already a dedicated Virgin Orbit forum with a discussion thread on Start Me Up.

Offline woods170

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Re: Massive blow to UK space flight industry
« Reply #2 on: 01/10/2023 12:52 pm »
Late last night, Virgin Orbits Cosmic Girl 747 took off from Spaceport Cornwall...

I noticed that this was your first post, 20-or-so months after joining this forum. So, a belated "Welcome to the forum!"

However, as already pointed out by Edzieba, your post contains several errors. There is no need to go in "Doomsday" mode over a single failed launch. The UK spaceflight industry will be just fine. A massive blow this launch failure is not. That is, not for the UK spaceflight industry. But it might be a large setback for Virgin Orbit, which is a US company.

So, no worries. And again: welcome to the forum.

Offline BGP Space Flight

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Re: Massive blow to UK space flight industry
« Reply #3 on: 01/10/2023 01:39 pm »
The CAA delay was real, they may not of intended to delay the launch, but it did delay it by 5 months. Thatís why the original launch window opened in August last year. Yes this was the first licence of its type to be applied for here in the UK, the window was opened pending the licenceís, however it was said it could be up to 18mths, but should be issued by the time the window opened. That happened three different times before the licence was finally issued.
Virgin Orbit may not be a UK company, but that is only to get round the US rules on military satellites only launching on US ships. It was founded by a British man, who has several other companies under his British Virgin Group, which retains a 11.9% stake through Virgin Investments Ltd.
At the end of the 2nd stage first burn, the official Virgin graphics, on their stream, showed the fuel tanks were empty (0%), they may of cause have a header tank like SpaceX does with starship, however the fact the N4 engine didnít re-light Iíd guess they donít.
Iíve been closely following the run up to this launch, having spoken to MPs who were talking to the CAA, in order to try and get the licences issued. I dare say the fact government was in a state of disarray last year, didnít help.
The space industry is worth £16.9b to the UK, without launches so that shouldnít be affected, however the space flight industry will be set back. All I was saying is companies outside the UK may think twice before committing to utilising UK facilities to launch their rockets.
Thank you for the welcome, Iíve been a capcom YouTube member for well over a year now, I love your work and I posted hoping to inform, but if Iím wrong I will delete the post.

Offline Jim

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Re: Massive blow to UK space flight industry
« Reply #4 on: 01/10/2023 05:35 pm »
This is a massive blow to the UK space flight industry, it may not have been a test flight, it was however a test to show that the UK was a viable site to launch from. With the failure of the lunch, on top of the massive delays while waiting for the Civil Aviation Authority to issue a licence, meaning the launch was five months later than intended, it could be a death blow to the UK industry.

Wrong takeaway.
This wasn't anything to do with the "UK space flight industry".    It was UK space flight regulatory agency.
It was all US hardware that failed.

Offline jstrotha0975

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Re: Massive blow to UK space flight industry
« Reply #5 on: 01/10/2023 08:31 pm »
I think VO will be okay, Branson will continue to fund it like VG.

Online trimeta

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IMO, the biggest (only?) impact on the "UK space flight industry" is that Virgin Orbit was basically the only company interested in using Cornwall, and thus to the extent that Virgin Orbit fails, so does Cornwall's dream of becoming a spaceport. Of course, as edzieba notes the Cornwall spaceport is an insignificant portion of the actual UK space flight industry: the rest will keep chugging along without issue.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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The Newton four (N4) engine then lit, taking the rocket up to its intended apogee.

The target orbit was 555 km circular, meaning the apogee was going to be 555 km. However, the vehicle failed during the second stage burn with a maximum apogee of 180.6 km. The vehicle never reached its intended apogee.

Quote
Everything looked like the historic first flight from UK soil was a resounding success, however when the time came for the N4 engines to re-light to bring the rockets orbit perigee up to where it needed to be in order to place the nine satellites onboard, into their intended orbit. The N4 engine failed to re-light, due to this, the orbit was not achieved and the rocket fell back to earth, dropping into the Atlantic Ocean.

The re-entry was caused by the second stage failing during the first burn of the second stage, not by the second stage failing to relight.
« Last Edit: 01/11/2023 06:13 am by Steven Pietrobon »
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

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