Virgin Orbit has successfully completed its first rocket drop test, paving the way for a real launch later this year.
The company loaded a rocket onto its Boeing 747 launch aircraft – dubbed Cosmic Girl – and dropped a dummy LauncherOne rocket in flight over the Mojave desert.
Virgin stated on Twitter that following this successful test, it would ramp up its efforts to launch a real rocket into space from the Boeing 747.
The company plans to begin testing live launches later this year, after which it plans to deliver commercial orbital launches for satellite operators.
Launching a rocket into space from a Boeing 747 which is already in flight eliminates much of the energy needed to send a payload into orbit, and could result in much cheaper commercial rocket launches compared to conventional methods.
After today's awesome drop, our full attention shifts to this rocket right here. Like our latest blog mentions, we'll finish mating the stages together later this month before kicking off a final series of check-outs & rehearsals in the lead-up to our orbital test flight. pic.twitter.com/aC7lGQZ9gA
— Virgin Orbit (@Virgin_Orbit) July 10, 2019