Virgin Galactic’s Cosmic Girl Undergoes Mods for Launch Duty

Tricking Up a 747 Credit: Virgin Galactic

Tricking Up a 747
Credit: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is making progress in its bid to enter the small launcher business with its LauncherOne two-stage, liquid fueled booster. Last week, the company announced that LauncherOne’s carrier aircraft, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 named appropriately enough, Cosmic Girl, arrived in Waco. Texas for conversion to its new assignment.

5th Pod in Use Credit: Airliners.net

5th Pod in Use
Credit: Airliners.net

LauncherOne will be carried to altitude slung under the aircraft’s wing in a position which is sometimes reserved for ferrying an additional, 5th engine from one point to another. Referred to as the “5th Pod” and located next to the fuselage on the port side of the aircraft, and available as an option from Boeing which is now used only on rare occasions, the spot makes an ideal location for mounting a small launch vehicle as well.

Doing so will require further strengthening however, which will be performed by L-3 Corporation of Waco, which has deep experience in performing Boeing 747 modifications for a variety of customers, including NASA’s Sofia Air-Born Flying Observatory.

Another L-3 747 Mod, NASA's Sofia Credit: NASA

Another L-3 747 Mod, NASA’s Sofia
Credit: NASA

On another front, VG is also making progress of a sort. Bloomberg reported last week that flight bookings for the company’s sub-orbital space tourism business have “almost” rebounded from cancellations following the October 31st, 2014 mid-air destruction of the VSS Enterprise spaceplane during a powered test flight. Its replacement, VSS Unity was unveiled in February, and is undergoing ground testing. A flight schedule has not been released.

Posted in: Virgin Galactic

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