Virgin Orbit to Drop Rocket Over Mojave Desert Today

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747 performs its first captive carry of LauncherOne. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

UPDATE No. 3: Cosmic Girl is back on the ground at Mojave.

UPDATE No. 2: Virgin Orbit reports clean release of LauncherOne over Edwards.
Cosmic Girl took off from Mojave at 8:45 am PDT.

Virgin Orbit is planning to drop a LauncherOne test booster over Edwards Air Force Base in California later this morning. The company is preparing the inert booster and its Boeing 747 carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl for a flight out of nearby Mojave Air and Space Port.

“This test is really all about those few seconds just after release, as we ensure the rocket and aircraft separate cleanly and observe how the rocket freefalls through the air,” the company said in a blog post.

The test follows the completion of a series of captive carry flights by the Boeing 747 aircraft named Cosmic Girl. The drop test is the last major milestone before a flight test of the air launched satellite booster.

Virgin Orbit is currently building its first operational LauncherOne rocket at its manufacturing facility in Long Beach. Calif.