What it takes to fly Virgin Orbit’s huge plane that launches rockets into space

Right now, hundreds of space startups are racing to develop newer, smaller rockets, in order to take advantage of the proliferation of smaller satellites within the aerospace industry. Many of these companies want to get to space the old-fashioned way, by making a rocket that takes off vertically from the ground. But one company has eyed another method for getting to space — by launching underneath the wing of a giant airplane.
This is the strategy of Virgin Orbit, the sibling company to Richard Branson’s space tourism venture Virgin Galactic. Virgin Orbit has developed a small rocket called LauncherOne that can put satellites the size of washing machines into orbit. And its launchpad resides at 35,000 feet. Virgin Orbit owns a Boeing…

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