Categories
GeekWire

Virgin Galactic will use jet as rocket mothership

Image: Virgin Galactic jet
An artist’s conception shows a 747 jet carrying a LauncherOne rocket. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic showed off its latest mothership today: a Boeing 747-400 jet that it acquired from its corporate cousins at Virgin Atlantic to serve as the platform for its LauncherOne rocket.

LauncherOne is designed to be launched from a high-flying carrier airplane and send small-scale satellites into orbit. It will use a liquid-fueled engine called Newton, which is still under development. The launch system is expected to be in operation by 2018, and it’s already been tapped by OneWeb to help put a global Internet constellation into orbit.

It was previously thought that LauncherOne would use Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane. That’s the mothership being used for SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered passenger space plane. But Virgin Galactic said the 747 was more suited for LauncherOne’s upgraded payload capacity and flight rate.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

Leave a Reply