Virgin Orbit has announced the completion of a test flight of its Cosmic Girl, a Boeing 747 aircraft, that was launched with LauncherOne, a 70-foot rocket strapped under its wing, the company said.
The 80-minute test flight carried the rocket to 30,000 feet, marking the test of a launch service for small satellites by using rockets launched in mid-air from commercial aircraft.
This flight marks the start of a new phase in Virgin Orbit´s extensive test flight campaign. As part of that program, the company will conduct several more flights of its 747-400, some with a LauncherOne rocket attached and some without. Future tests will focus on further proving out the robustness of the company´s modified 747, the carbon-fiber rocket itself, and the performance of the lightweight avionics and flight computers onboard the rocket. This portion of the extensive testing regime will conclude with a drop test, during which a rocket will be released from Cosmic Girl – without igniting – generating critical data about Cosmic Girl´s and the rocket´s performance as it freefalls through the atmosphere.
Virgin Orbit provides launch services for small satellites. Virgin Orbit designs, manufactures, tests, and operates a system called LauncherOne, a flexible launch service for commercial and government-built satellites.