Virgin Orbit jet aces first flight with rocket attached

Cosmic Girl with Launcher One
Virgin Orbit’s 70-foot-long LauncherOne rocket is hooked beneath the left wing of the modified 747 jet known as Cosmic Girl during the first captive-carry flight. (Virgin Orbit Photo)

Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 jet, nicknamed Cosmic Girl, has made its first test flight with a LauncherOne rocket tucked under its wing.

The 80-minute captive-carry flight from California’s Victorville Airport and back came on Nov. 18 after months of step-by-step preparations, and represents a major step forward in Virgin Orbit’s plan to start sending satellites to orbit next year.

In a news release, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said the outing was “a picture-perfect flight.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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