Virgin Orbit was dealt a severe blow to its space ambitions after Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne, which took a specially modified 747 jumbo jet from Newquay to help it reach orbit, failed and was eventually lost, especially since it was the first launch from British soil.
This isn’t the first time Virgin Orbit’s space projects have experienced failed launches, and it probably won’t be the last, but how does its success rate compare to the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin?
Analysis, conducted by the British Daily Mail, reveals that Virgin owner Richard Branson trails billionaire rivals Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos when it comes to percentage success rate.
Branson scored 91.35%, while Musk scored 97.1% and Bezos more than 95.65%. Virgin Orbit achieved seven failed launches and 74 successful missions, compared to SpaceX’s six failed and 201 successful missions, and one failed and 22 successful missions for ‘Blue Origin’.
But with regard to the number of launches as mentioned, Elon Musk outperformed the two companies, by a large difference, as his company SpaceX comes at the forefront of the major space companies.
Perhaps Branson’s Virgin Orbit’s most famous and catastrophic space launch failure occurred in 2014, when SpaceShipTwo crashed into California’s Mojave Desert, killing pilot Michael Alsbury and seriously injuring pilot Peter Siebold.
The vehicle was flying a crewed test when it experienced what the company described at the time as a “serious anomaly,” one of five launch failures in the company’s 19-year history, compared to 70 successful missions.