Cosmic Girl, Virgin Orbit’s specially modified jumbo jet designed to serve as a flying launchpad, touched down Monday afternoon at Long Beach Airport to the delight of those working to help the company join the United States’ nascent private spaceflight industry.
“We’re here to redefine the word ‘launchsite.’ And we’re here to celebrate that,” Virgin Orbit President Dan Hart said after Cosmic Girl had taxied from a Long Beach Airport runway to an audience of Virgin Orbit employees and Long Beach dignitaries.
Cosmic Girl is a Boeing 747-400 jet that, in Hart’s words, had the “perfect name” for its new mission. The aircraft already had its moniker while flying passengers in the service of Virgin Atlantic.
• MORE PHOTOS: Cosmic Girl touches down at Long Beach Airport
Virgin Galactic, the part of the Virgin Group that’s focused on eventually letting customers buy a ticket to travel into outer space, acquired Cosmic Girl in late 2015. Virgin Orbit was part of Virgin Galactic before acquiring its own name in March.
Virgin Orbit’s headquarters is in the Douglas Park area of northeast Long Beach, and Cosmic Girl is a major part of that company’s effort to develop a relatively inexpensive method of shooting satellites into orbit. The company’s plan is for Cosmic Girl to carry a rocket, dubbed LauncherOne, under its left wing in order to be fired into space while the aircraft is in flight.
Monday signified the first time Cosmic Girl made an appearance in the company’s home city.
Virgin Orbit chief engineer Kevin Sagis has been working on Virgin projects leading up to Cosmic Girl’s…
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