Virgin Galactic will use a Boeing 747 to launch satellites into space

Virgin Galactic introduces the newest addition to its fleet of vehicles as part of a technical update on its LauncherOne small satellite launch service. The 747-400 commercial jet aircraft, previously operated by Virgin Atlantic under the nickname ‘Cosmic Girl,’ will provide a dedicated launch platform for the LauncherOne orbital vehicle.

LauncherOne works differently from the rockets used by other companies like SpaceX or Blue Origin. Instead of taking off from solid ground, the satellite launcher is released mid-flight, greatly reducing the amount of fuel necessary to get small payloads into orbit. But up until today, Virgin Galactic's plans for LauncherOne always included it being taken to those high altitudes by WhiteKnightTwo, the massive plane that the company plans to one day use to carry its space tourism ship (SpaceShipTwo) into the stratosphere.