Virgin Orbit launches rocket off a 747 aircraft, puts nine satellites in space

Jan. 19, 2021
"In both a literal and figurative sense, this is miles beyond how far we reached in our first Launch Demo," the company posted on its Twitter account, Jackie Wattles reports for CNN Business.

AUSTIN, Texas - A 70-foot rocket, riding beneath the wing of a retrofitted Boeing 747 aircraft, detached from the plane and fired itself into Earth's orbit on Sunday — marking the first successful launch for the California-based rocket startup Virgin Orbit, Jackie Wattles reports for CNN BusinessContinue reading original article.

The Intelligent Aerospace take:

January 19, 2020  - "This magnificent flight is the culmination of many years of hard work and will also unleash a whole new generation of innovators on the path to orbit," said Richard Branson, the founder of the company. "Virgin Orbit has achieved something many thought impossible."

The 747 launch aircraft, dubbed "Cosmic Girl," has a custom wing pylon that carries the rocket and can hold up to 85,000 pounds (38.555 kg), and the jet is crewed by a pilot and co-pilot, along with two engineers. Virgin expects to build 24 rockets, called "LauncherOne" by the company, annually at its Long Beach, Calif., facility. The rocket can run for six minutes over multiple burns with a 17,500 mile per hour (281635 kph) top speed.

Related: Virgin Orbit tests rocket launch from Cosmic Girl 747-400 carrier aircraft mobile air launch pad

Related: Virgin has successful test with 747 carrying air-launched satellite delivery rocket

Related: Boeing 747 jumbo jet turns 50, but its future remains uncertain

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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