Virgin Orbit’s jet gets set to launch rockets

Cosmic Girl
Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 jet, known as Cosmic Girl, comes home to Long Beach, Calif., after going through a series of upgrades and tests. (Virgin Orbit Photo)

Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet, christened “Cosmic Girl,” is back at its home base in Long Beach, Calif., for preparations that will lead to its use as a launch platform for small satellites.

The jet returned to Long Beach on July 31 after going through a series of inspections and modifications conducted in collaboration with L3 Platform Integration and VT Aerospace, two of Virgin Orbit’s partners.

In a news release, Virgin Orbit said the Federal Aviation Administration has issued Cosmic Girl an experimental airworthiness certificate, opening the way for flight tests to begin at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port.

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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.

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