Virgin Orbit's inaugural rocket launch fails

Richard Branson
(Image credit: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Virgin Orbit, the company founded by Richard Branson with the aim of launching smaller satellites, tried unsuccessfully on Monday to launch a rocket off the coast of Southern California.

It was the company's first test launch of a new rocket, which had been in development for five years, The Associated Press reports. The rocket was released from a jet dubbed Cosmic Girl, and dropped over the Pacific Ocean. In a statement, Virgin Orbit said it could confirm a "clean release from the aircraft. However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight. Cosmic Girl and our flight crew are safe and returning to base." The company did not say what went wrong, but stated it will "learn more as our engineers analyze the mountain of data we collected today."

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