L-3 Receives Virgin Galactic’s ‘Cosmic Girl’ 747 Aircraft for LauncherOne Support Modification
[Via Satellite 03-18-2016] Virgin Galactic’s Boeing 747-400 carrier aircraft for its LauncherOne small satellite launch service, nicknamed “Cosmic Girl,” has arrived at L-3’s platform integration facilities for its next phase of modifications. The aircraft completed a heavy maintenance check prior to its arrival. Once L-3’s modifications are complete, Cosmic Girl will be able to carry the LauncherOne rocket under its left wing, partially leveraging the position frequently used by 747s to ferry additional jet engines.
Virgin Galactic competitively selected L-3 for the modification work on LauncherOne’s dedicated “mothership.” The company’s modifications, which began last year, mainly involve strengthening the wing to carry the LauncherOne rocket.
The Boeing 747s aircraft have supported a variety of air-launch and ferrying missions, including the Space Shuttle Enterprise test flight program, NASA’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft program, the Pratt & Whitney flying test bed, and ferry flight of the X-45 Phantom Ray. Virgin Galactic selected the vehicle for its robust carrying capacity, operational flexibility, long range, ability to operate in many kinds of weather, global maintenance support personnel, robust spare parts supply chain, and its track record.