Virgin Orbit aims for new UK satellite launch

LONDON (Reuters) - Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit said on Thursday it would attempt another rocket launch from Cornwall after its mission on Monday ended in failure, dashing Britain's hopes of becoming the first European nation to put satellites into orbit.

"Virgin Orbit ... anticipates returning to Spaceport Cornwall for additional launches, and is in active discussions with key government and commercial stakeholders in the UK to start planning mission opportunities for as soon as later this year," it said in a stock market filing.

The California-based company said it had initiated a formal investigation into the source of the second stage failure of its rocket.

The mission had taken off as planned from the runway at Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, south-west England, using a converted Boeing 747 aircraft.

Virgin Orbit said its rocket was successfully released from the aircraft over the Atlantic, and it completed its stage-one burn.

"At some point during the rocket's flight through space, the upper stage experienced an anomaly," the company said.

"This anomalous event ended the mission, with the rocket components and payload descending to Earth within the approved safety corridor without having achieved orbit."

It said all required corrective actions identified during the investigation would be completed prior to initiation of its next mission, which is planned to occur from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by William James)