Please enable JavaScript to experience the full functionality of GMX.

Virgin Orbit plane completes test flight

A Virgin Orbit plane has completed a test flight with a rocket attached.

The vessel - named Cosmic Girl - took off with a rocket under its wing on Sunday (18.11.18), marking a successful test flight for Virgin Orbit, who hope to provide satellite-launching services in the future.

Scientists and businesses are looking to launch small satellites into space for research and communication purposes, but there are currently limited options for getting them to their destination.

According to Gizmodo, Virgin Group's Virgin Orbit hopes to supply an "agile and affordable" launch service in the form of rockets strapped to planes, for satellites weighing 300 to 500 kilograms.

The publication reports that the Cosmic Girl plane - which is a modified 747-400 plane - was fitted with a 70-foot, two-stage LauncherOne rocket, and that the 80-minute test flight included measurements and handling assessments.

Virgin Orbit chief pilot Kelly Latimer said in a statement: "Everyone on the flight crew and all of our colleagues on the ground were extremely happy with the data we saw from the instruments on-board the aircraft, in the pylon, and on the rocket itself. From my perspective in the cockpit, the vehicles handled incredibly well, and perfectly matched what we've trained for in the simulators."

Virgin Orbit will continue running captive-carry tests of Cosmic Girl and the LauncherOne, including a test where it will drop but not launch the rocket, and it plans to have its first space shot in early 2019.

Sponsored Content