Southern California-based Virgin Orbit has reached a milestone in developing its airborne orbital launch system.

In this Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, photo released by Virgin Orbit, a completed LauncherOne rocket hangs from the wing of Cosmic Girl, a special Boeing 747 aircraft that is used as the rocket’s “flying launch pad,” at the Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif. The system is intended to carry small satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit is a sister company of Virgin Galactic, which is developing an air-launched rocket plane for carrying tourists on suborbital flights into space. (Greg Robinson/Virgin Orbit via AP)

The company says this week it mated a LauncherOne rocket to a special Boeing 747 at Long Beach Airport and will soon begin a series of flights that will culminate with a drop test in which the booster will be released from beneath the jet’s left wing.

In this Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, photo released by Virgin Orbit, a completed LauncherOne rocket hangs from the wing of Cosmic Girl, a special Boeing 747 aircraft that is used as the rocket’s “flying launch pad,” at the Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif. The system is intended to carry small satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit is a sister company of Virgin Galactic, which is developing an air-launched rocket plane for carrying tourists on suborbital flights into space. (Greg Robinson/Virgin Orbit via AP)

The system is intended to carry small satellites into orbit.

In this Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, photo released by Virgin Orbit, a completed LauncherOne rocket hangs from the wing of “Cosmic Girl,” a Boeing 747 aircraft used as the rocket’s “flying launch pad,” at the Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif. Southern California-based Virgin Orbit has reached a milestone in developing its airborne orbital launch system. Virgin Orbit is a sister company of Virgin Galactic, which is developing an air-launched rocket plane for carrying tourists on suborbital flights into space. (Greg Robinson/Virgin Orbit via AP)

Virgin Orbit is a sister company of Virgin Galactic, which is developing an air-launched rocket plane for carrying tourists on suborbital flights into space.

In this Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, photo released by Virgin Orbit, a completed LauncherOne rocket hangs from the wing of Cosmic Girl, a special Boeing 747 aircraft that is used as the rocket’s “flying launch pad,” at the Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif. The system is intended to carry small satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit is a sister company of Virgin Galactic, which is developing an air-launched rocket plane for carrying tourists on suborbital flights into space. (Greg Robinson/Virgin Orbit via AP)

Virgin Orbit said it already has hundreds of millions of dollars worth of launches on contract for a wide range of customers including NASA and the U.S. Defense Department.

Source: The Associated Press

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