Virgin Orbit Shares Plummet As Historic Launch Fails Due to 'Anomaly'

The mission was set to be the first-ever successful satellite launch to depart from the UK.

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By Emily Rella

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Houston, we seem to have a problem.

Virgin Orbit's attempt to make history as the first satellite mission to launch out of the UK failed on Tuesday due to unforeseen and rather rare circumstances.

The rocket, which launched out of Cornwall Airport in Newquay, England (also known as Spaceport Cornwall) began well and looked to be on track to complete its mission of placing nine satellites into orbit from the LauncherOne rocket, which was attached to Cosmic Girl where the flight crew was located.

However once airborne, the Virgin Orbit rocket suffered an unexpected secondary engine failure that left the rocket unable to reach orbit. The company called it an "anomaly."

The crew that was part of the original capsule, Cosmic Girl, landed safely back on the ground.

Virgin Orbit is a flight company that offers "launch services for small satellites" born out of Virgin Galactic, the Virgin Group's full space exploration company.

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Shares of Virgin Orbit reportedly plummeted in pre-market trading amid the news, dropping as much as 20% this morning.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, shares were still down around 14% in a 24-hour period.

The launch failure is another tough hit for the Virgin Group, which suffered a rocket launch crash that left one pilot dead in 2014 through Virgin Galactic.

The news of Tuesday's flight comes after a Sunday Times interview with Branson in which he revealed that ahead of his first trip into outer space, he was greeted by a barefoot Elon Musk inside his kitchen in the early morning hours.

Virgin Galactic is set to begin launching commercial space flights in the second quarter of 2023.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

News Writer

Emily Rella is a news writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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