Alexyz3d/iStock via Getty Images Virgin Orbit (NASDAQ:VORB) provided an updated on Thursday on its Start Me Up mission, which was the first orbital launch attempt in history conducted from western Europe. The spaceflight company said that after successfully proceeding through pre-launch operations and taking off as planned from the runway at Spaceport Cornwall, Virgin Orbit’s (VORB) carrier aircraft traveled to the bespoke drop zone selected for this mission and successfully released the rocket. The rocket ignited its first stage engine and went hypersonic before successfully completing the stage one burn. Later in the mission, at an altitude of approximately 180 km, the upper stage experienced an anomaly. The anomaly prematurely ended the first burn of the upper stage, with the rocket components and payload then falling back to Earth within the approved safety corridor without ever achieving orbit. Looking ahead, Virgin Orbit (VORB) said an extensive fault analysis and investigation and completion of all required corrective actions identified during the investigation will be completed prior to the next flight. The company is continuing to process its next scheduled rocket through final integration and checkout ahead of its upcoming mission, which is planned to occur from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The plan is to return to Spaceport Cornwall in the UK for additional launches. CEO update: “Given our four previous successful missions, which have proven our technology, our team’s deep understanding of the LauncherOne system from massive amounts of previously collected flight data, and the ample telemetry data that was collected characterizing the flight and the anomaly, I am confident that root cause and corrective actions will be determined in an efficient and timely manner.” Shares of Virgin Orbit (VORB) gained 3.55% in the premarket session on Thursday to add to Wednesday’s 1.81% rise. Shares of VORB are still down about 18% from where they started the week.

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