Redefining launch. That was our aim when we began work on LauncherOne, our dedicated ride for small satellites. The team at Virgin Orbit has been integrating our rocket systems in our advanced manufacturing factory in Long Beach, California and preparing to integrate LauncherOne with an essential piece of flight hardware, which flew home this week.
After completing significant modification work and with her FAA certificate to start flight tests, Cosmic Girl, our beautiful 747-400, touched down for the first time in Long Beach Airport. I’m thrilled to say that we took delivery of our mobile launch pad for space access.
Cosmic Girl (once operated by Virgin Atlantic) finished 16 months of significant modification work starting with inspections, ground vibration tests, 3D scanning, a D-check, removing the interiors, and reinforcing her left wing to carry LauncherOne. She will fly with the rocket and our customers’ satellites to 35,000 feet and release it for a flight to orbit.
The Long Beach community has been supportive throughout our journey and will enjoy watching Cosmic Girl come and go between missions. One of the airport staff recalled that the only other 747 to fly into Long Beach Airport was Air Force One. Mayor Robert Garcia and city councilmembers joined our team for our celebration and champagne toast.
The team is truly redefining launch and helping satellite customers with low cost and flexible launches. I have visited the Virgin Orbit team many times this year and continue to be impressed with not only their engineering, manufacturing and aviation expertise but also their commitment to serving our customers.
Welcome home, Cosmic Girl! Congratulations to the team and our customers for getting one step closer to launch.