Richard Branson’s Small-Satellite Launch Venture Fails First Test

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A company founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson to launch small satellites botched its initial demonstration flight, as a rocket released from a specially outfitted jumbo jet failed to reach low-earth orbit.

Virgin Orbit’s long-anticipated debut mission kicked off Monday over Southern California in perfect weather when a converted Boeing Co. 747 jet, named “Cosmic Girl,” climbed to 35,000 feet, a slender, 70-foot rocket slung under its left wing. Everything proceeded as planned with the red-nosed booster dropping away from…



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