UK officials to oversee investigation into Virgin Orbit mission failure

UK officials will oversee an investigation into the failure of Virgin Orbit’s rocket launch mission from Cornwall (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)
UK officials will oversee an investigation into the failure of Virgin Orbit’s rocket launch mission from Cornwall (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

UK officials will work with counterparts in the US to oversee an investigation into the failure of Virgin Orbit’s rocket launch mission from Cornwall.

The Space Accident Investigation Authority (CAIS) said it will work alongside the Federal Aviation Administration to “ensure that any relevant safety lessons are learnt”.

The organisations will oversee Virgin Orbit’s investigation.

After taking off from Spaceport Cornwall on Monday night, the Virgin Orbit plane flew to 35,000ft over the Atlantic Ocean, where it jettisoned the LauncherOne rocket containing nine small satellites towards space.

However, organisers of the Start Me Up mission soon identified an “anomaly” during the firing of the rocket’s second stage engine, meaning it failed to reach orbit.

Virgin Orbit has said it hopes to return to Spaceport Cornwall for new launches as early as later this year.