Virgin Galactic Buys 747 Mothership for Satellite Launcher (photos added!)

  • Dec 3, 2015 2:23pm GMT

At a press conference Thursday in San Antonio, Texas, Richard Branson announced Virgin Galactic had purchased a 747 to be the new mothership for their orbital LauncherOne rocket. The plane, that is coincidentally named "Cosmic Girl" came from the Virgin Atlantic fleet.

Branson said, "I am absolutely thrilled that Cosmic Girl can stay in the Virgin family- and truly live up to her name!"

New Virgin Galactic Pilot Kelly Latimer was on hand as well since she flew the 747 Space Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and knows a thing or two about flying 747's with spaceships mated to them.

The new mothership allows for LauncherOne to take even larger satellites to orbit. Here is what the company updates says:

"Due to high levels of demand for both SpaceShipTwo human spaceflights and LauncherOne small satellite missions, Virgin Galactic has decided to have a specifically dedicated carrier aircraft for each program. With that decision made, it became possible to select an aircraft for the LauncherOne business that would have the performance characteristics to hit the payload and orbit sweet-spots in demand for rapid, flexible, dedicated and cost effective small satellite launch.

In the lead up to the announcement, an interdisciplinary team from Virgin Galactic spent several months researching the most appropriate aircraft type and then locating a suitable vehicle for procurement and modification.

As a result of that work the team announced today that Virgin Atlantic’s aptly but coincidentally named Cosmic Girl has joined the Virgin Galactic fleet as its second mother-ship. Cosmic Girl went into service in 2001 and will spend her new life as an aerial platform for LauncherOne, facilitating a new generation of small satellites which will help us in our mission to open space for the benefit of life on Earth."

Read the full press release HERE"

Do watch the video to get a glimpse of Virgin Atlantic's beautiful Cosmic Girl in motion at about 1:33!