Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit postpones first space launch

Virgin Orbit

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit postponed its first space launch on Sunday, due to a technical problem.

The company said one sensor was “acting up” and fuel was being offloaded from the rocket in Mojave, California, to address what it termed a minor issue.

“This means we are scrubbed for today,” it said in its social media post.

A backup launch window was available on Monday morning but the company did not immediately announce its revised plan for the inaugural use of its air launch system.

Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is a sister company to Virgin Galactic, Branson’s space tourism company which is preparing to carry passengers on suborbital flights over New Mexico.

Virgin Orbit’s rocket will be carried beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 that will take off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and fly out over the Pacific ocean.

The rocket will be released and its motor will ignite a few seconds later, propelling a dummy satellite into low Earth orbit.