Welcome home, Cosmic Girl! Virgin Orbit’s 747-400 rocket launch platform lands in Long Beach Airport

Champagne-soaked homecoming welcome from Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, City Councilwoman Stacy Mungo and Long Beach Airport officials 

Long Beach, California – 01 August 2017 – Virgin Orbit employees and customers welcomed home Cosmic Girl, the 747-400 rocket launch platform that will soon launch small satellites to orbit. They were joined by Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, city councilmembers and Long Beach Airport officials who greeted Cosmic Girl and flight crew with a champagne toast and water canon salute. The 747-400 was crewed by Cosmic Girl’s chief pilot Kelly Latimer and co-pilot Richard Nelson. 

Virgin Orbit has been headquartered in Long Beach since 2015 when it moved into a 180,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Cosmic Girl’s homecoming into Long Beach Airport marked the end of the inspection and modification phase conducted with Virgin Orbit’s aircraft modification partner L3 Platform Integration and maintenance partner VT Aero. The FAA issued Cosmic Girl an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate, permitting flight tests to commence. Launches will occur in Mojave Air and Space Port. 

Virgin Orbit’s unique air launch platform frees small satellite customers from fixed ground infrastructure, traffic jams on the ranges, and unfavorable weather conditions. Cosmic Girl will carry the LauncherOne rocket to at an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before release for its rocket-powered flight to orbit. The 747-400 aircraft has many attributes that contribute to the ideal dedicated ride for small satellites:  the aircraft’s large and robust rocket carrying capacity, operational flexibility, long range, ability to operate in many kinds of weather, and existing 747-400 experience, maintenance, and spare parts supply chains.  

Virgin Orbit designs, builds and tests LauncherOne inhouse and is at the forefront of composite structures, liquid rocket engines, ultra-responsive launch systems, ruggedized avionics and optimized flight software, automated flight safety systems, and advanced manufacturing techniques. The synergy of these technologies enables unparalleled responsiveness to commercial and government small satellite markets. LauncherOne is capable of delivering 300 kilograms to a 500 kilometer Sun-Synchronous Orbit. The first flight is scheduled to occur in the first half of 2018.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia: “The arrival of Cosmic Girl to Virgin Orbit in East Long Beach is an exciting step forward for the future of aerospace in our City. We look forward to making Long Beach and Virgin Orbit leaders of job growth in STEM.”
City Councilwoman Stacy Mungo: “We are truly excited to welcome Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl into Long Beach. Our City is thrilled to serve as a partner for the further advancement of aerospace innovation and space access for small satellite companies, customers and all community members.”

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart: “Long Beach has long been the home of aerospace innovation, and we are thrilled that after months of significant modification work, Cosmic Girl, our first stage to orbit, is finally home. Virgin Orbit is in the home stretch of integrating our LauncherOne rocket and ground systems for launch and to support our customers’ missions. Thanks to the support of the City of Long Beach and the Long Beach Airport, we employ and partner with some of the most talented aviation and aerospace engineers and technicians in the country. We look forward to keeping Long Beach’s aerospace heritage vibrant and enabling our customers to achieve space access.” 

Virgin Orbit Vice President of Launch Tim Buzza: “It has been amazing to watch Cosmic Girl transform from a commercial airliner to a flying launchpad.  We are excited to begin our flight test program and continue towards our vision of launching anyone, anywhere, any time.”

 

MEDIA INQUIRES

William Pomerantz, william.pomerantz@virginorbit.com
 

ABOUT VIRGIN ORBIT

Virgin Orbit provides dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. Virgin Orbit is developing LauncherOne, a flexible launch service for commercial and government-built satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and will be air-launched from a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft capable of operating from many locations in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Virgin Orbit’s systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbit’s talented and growing team, visit virginorbit.com.

 

IMAGES

Long Beach Airport welcomed Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, a 747-400 converted as a
rocket launch platform for small satellite customers, with a traditional water canon salute, July 31 2017. 

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart and Cosmic Girl’s chief pilot Kelly Latimer celebrate the arrival of the 747-400 rocket launch platform with Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, July 31 2017. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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  Virgin Orbit employees, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and city councilmembers, and Long Beach Airport officials celebrated the homecoming of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, a 747-400 converted as a rocket launch platform for small satellite customers, with a champagne toast, July 31 2017. 

Virgin Orbit employees, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and city councilmembers, and Long Beach Airport officials celebrated the homecoming of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl, a 747-400 converted as a rocket launch platform for small satellite customers, with a champagne toast, July 31 2017. 

William Pomerantz