Virgin Orbit completes key final test prior to first orbital demo launch

Virgin Orbit is closer than ever to its goal of launching orbital satellites from a platform carried aboard a modified 747 aircraft. The company flew a successful cryogenic captive carry test of its LauncherOne rocket, carried by the Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft. This test marks the first time that the LauncherOne flew aboard the aircraft fully fueled with RP-1, though it used liquid nitrogen instead of liquid oxygen as an additional safety precaution.

This is an important test because it simulates the real thermal conditions the rocket would undergo during the actual demo launch, since all prior flights have just used water in place of fuel. That’s good for simulating carry weight, but water is much warmer than rocket fuel, which means it isn’t an accurate representation of actual mission conditions.

Virgin Orbit’s ventilators gain FDA authorization, deliveries to hospitals will start within days

Virgin Orbit has secured an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its ventilator, which the small satellite launch company designed and prototyped within the past few weeks in response to growing need for ventilator hardware to address the most severe cases of COVID-19 infection. Virgin Orbit anticipates deliveries of the ventilator hardware to start “within the next few days” now that it has secured the agency’s authorization.