The plane, called “Cosmic Girl,” was earlier used by sister firm Virgin Atlantic to fly travelers from Europe to the United States. In its subsequent life, it will launch unmanned space rocket carrying minor satellites into earth orbit.
As Technodots reports, Cosmic Girl will transport the satellite and the small rocket, named Launcher One, under its left arm. After getting its top altitude, the rocket will separate and fall away from the plane. The skyrocket’s engine will then ignite to get the rest of the mode into space.
The horizontal takeoff from a plane is also how Virgin Galactic plans to cart space tourists into short suborbital flights into outer space. But a altered, specially designed plane will transport the manned tasks, and those flights will not touch orbit the way the satellites do.
Virgin Galactic has gained a $4.7 million bond to launch satellites for NASA. It also has as a agreement from OneWeb, which plans a web of 270 low Earth-orbit satellites to deliver global Internet access. But the firm has not yet propelled a satellite or a traveler into space.
Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo worn-out in October 2014, during which a test pilot was killed. A fresh SpaceShipTwo is still under construction.
Cosmic Girl has been in provision for Virgin Atlantic since 2001. It was one of the last 747 put in provision for the carrier, which changed to Airbus A-340’s after that.
“The Boeing 747 has a very exceptional place in my heart,” said Virgin founder & CEO Richard Branson. “I never imagined that now one of our 747s would get a second chance and assist open access to space. I’m totally thrilled that Cosmic Girl can halt in the Virgin family — and truly live up to her title.”