Virgin Orbit successfully completes final captive carry flight

Cosmic Girl flying with LauncherOne under its wing
Image from Virgin Orbit
Head shot of Tania Steere.  She is smiling, with long, wavy blonde hair
by Tania Steere
14 April 2020

Virgin Orbit has completed a successful captive carry flight, taking the company one step closer to launching small satellites into space and improving everyone’s access to data around the globe.

The flight was a complete end-to-end rehearsal for their first launch flight. This is a huge moment as it marks the last major test in their development programme before their launch demonstration. 

Virgin Orbit’s 747 Cosmic Girl took off on Sunday with a fuelled LauncherOne rocket for the cryogenic captive carry test. They completed a pull-up manoeuvre and simulated drop of LauncherOne (their rocket that will launch at 35,000ft from Cosmic Girl, taking satellites into orbit).

Small satellites have huge potential to change people’s lives for the better. They connect us to each other, help us understand the world around us, keep us safe, grow the world’s economies, and expand the limits of human knowledge.

In recent years, satellites have gotten smaller and cheaper but launching them can still be a challenge, as often they are forced to rideshare on larger rockets with primary payloads, meaning they have little control over their schedule or orbital destination. Enter Virgin Orbit. Like the satellites their customers are flying,their launch system is light, fast, flexible, and affordable.

Virgin Orbit’s work is deemed essential service, allowing some of the team to continue working in their factory at Long Beach in California even as up to 90 per cent of the company’s staff works remotely. As an aerospace company, the team is used to using Personal Protective Equipment and thinking about how to keep people safe.

Virgin Orbit's adapted Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl taking off through the skies
Image from Virgin Orbit

The team have also been working on designing and developing a bridge ventilator to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Head over to Twitter to see more of the latest Virgin Orbit updates.