Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit completes rocket tests at Stennis

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Virgin Orbit, a satellite-launch company, conducts a Thrust Chamber Assembly test on the E-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center. The company partnered with Stennis to conduct a recently completed series of hot fire tests totaling a cumulative 974.391 seconds. Photo: NASA/SSC

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (WGNO) — Virgin Orbit wrapped a series of rocket engine tests last month at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.

This testing took place on the E-1 Test Stand, Cell 1, configured for the new test in the beginning of 2021. The hot fire series began March 30 and lasted until the final testing day July 20.

Originally, there were 30 tests scheduled involving 10 different injector configurations at a minimum of three tests each. However, the project was later expanded to 14 injector configurations and many more tests.

“With excellent support from the NASA SSC team, Virgin Orbit successfully completed the test campaign and collected invaluable data on key injector parameters and their effects on engine performance,” said Vishal Doshi, a senior propulsion design engineer at Virgin Orbit.

Virgin Orbit, a satellite-launch company founded by Sir Richard Branson, enjoyed the opportunity to work with Stennis after the Space Act Agreement in finalized in November 2020 enabled NASA to enter partnerships with organizations.

“Commercial projects are fast-paced, help us learn new things, and give us an opportunity to help with the commercialization of space,” said Paul Rydeen, NASA project manager at Stennis.

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