Virgin Galactic to use 747 for LauncherOne

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The competition heats up? Virgin Galactic has purchased a 747 from Richard Branson’s Virgin Airlines to use as the launch vehicle for its LauncherOne rocket.

They say that WhiteKnightOne will still be used for suborbital flights, but that they need the 747 for the orbital missions of LauncherOne. They also say that test flights will begin in 2017. We shall see.


  • PeterF

    I always wondered why Branson was wasting resources “reinventing the wheel” when proven heavy lift airframes like the 747 or the DC-10 could be modified to carry just about anything.

  • pzatchok

    Didn’t I mention or suggest this about a year ago?

    Now all he needs to do is modify it a bit and he can carry and launch his shuttle from the top like they did testing the NASA Space shuttles way back in the 1970’s.

    If the front swung open like the larger cargo carriers do he could carry extra launcher one rockets or even the crane needed to lift the shuttle up to the top of the carrier/launch/ferry plane.

    Then he could fly the whole circus all over the world.

  • PeterF

    pzatchok – I believe you did suggest this. Perhaps Mr. Branson reads this blog.

    Personally, I would have suggested a DC-10 for the extra ground clearance. The belly could be modified to carry the vehicle the way the X-1 was carried under a B-29. The current configuration allows the vehicle to be attached to the WhiteKnight without a crane, and air dropped before powered flight. I don’t see any easy way to reconfigure for a piggy-back launch that wouldn’t eventually end in disaster. But then again, I’m not a billionaire with money to burn…

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