VIRGIN GALACTIC unveiled the newest addition to its fleet, a Boeing 747-400, during a technical briefing for its LauncherOne small satellite launch service. The aircraft, N744VG (c/n 32745), previously operated by Virgin Atlantic as ex G-VWOW, Cosmic Girl, will be used to provide a dedicated launch platform for the LauncherOne orbital vehicle.
George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic’s CEO said: “Air launch enables us to provide a rapid, responsive service to our satellite customers on a schedule set by their business and operational needs. Selecting the 747 airframe provides a dedicated platform that gives us the capacity to substantially increase our payload to orbit without increasing our prices.”
The LauncherOne rocket will be mounted to the 747 under its left wing, adjacent to the position that has been used by other 747s to ferry a fifth engine. The aircraft will undergo scheduled maintenance prior to the start of a wing modification programme.