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Test Mission To Launch Rocket Into Space Could Take Place Off Central Coast Monday

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(Virgin Orbit photo)
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A converted 747 will be used to see if it can successfully deploy a rocket which could put satellites into a low earth orbit

A test mission to see if a jumbo jet and a special rocket could be used to launch small satellites into orbit could take place Monday morning off the Central Coast.

Virgin Orbit had planned the test flight for Sunday, but a sensor issue prompted the flight’s delay for 24 hours. 

Plans call for a modified 747 to carry a 70-foot-long rocket to 35,000 feet, where it will be launched. 

The mission is intended to test the flight capability, so the rocket only carries a dummy payload.  The project could create a much more economical way of launching small satellites into low earth orbit.

The window for the test mission is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, with the transport aircraft taking off from Mojave, and flying over the Central Coast and over the ocean for the test launch.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.