VIRGIN ORBIT TO EXPAND FLEET WITH MODIFICATION OF SECOND AIRBORNE SATELLITE LAUNCHPAD

Credit: Virgin Orbit
Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB), a leading satellite launch company, has signed an agreement with L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) to acquire two Boeing 747-400 airframes to support the growing need for U.S. national security and allies’ satellite launch demands.

L3Harris will modify one of the newly acquired aircrafts to serve as an additional airborne launch pad for Virgin Orbit’s small satellite launch service, with delivery expected in 2023. L3Harris will also overhaul the platform with a new cargo configuration, which is expected to allow Virgin Orbit to deliver its rockets and ground support equipment in the same aircraft that will launch from foreign spaceports.

The companies previously collaborated to produce Virgin Orbit’s flagship aircraft “Cosmic Girl,” the first customized 747-400 aircraft to carry and deploy payloads to Low Earth Orbit under Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne program.

“Virgin Orbit is at an exciting juncture in our growth as a company,” said CEO Dan Hart. “As we expand our fleet to serve customers worldwide, we’re enthusiastic to once again partner with L3Harris.”

“It’s inspiring for our team to see L3Harris’ aircraft engineering and modification experience in action on a mission-enabling platform that has performed brilliantly in its space launch role,” said Luke Savoie, President, ISR Systems, L3Harris. “We’re excited to help double Virgin Orbit’s innovative fleet so they can serve their customers with greater capacity and mission flexibility.”

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl has completed three commercial launches, successfully deploying 26 customer satellites into orbit for multiple commercial, government and military customers. The aircraft, which was previously acquired from Virgin Orbit’s sister company Virgin Atlantic, will continue to fly missions, including the first launch from the United Kingdom expected later this year out of Spaceport Cornwall.

About Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) operates one of the most flexible and responsive space launch systems ever built. Founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021, and has already delivered commercial, civil, national security, and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747-400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs.

About L3Harris Technologies

L3Harris Technologies is an agile global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced defense and commercial technologies across space, air, land, sea and cyber domains. L3Harris has more than $17 billion in annual revenue and 47,000 employees, with customers in more than 100 countries.

Source: Virgin Orbit

Kris Christiaens's Avatar

Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.