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Virgin Orbit to expand its fleet of 747s used with its LauncherOne rocket

Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit has signed a deal with L3 Harris Technologies to buy two more 747s airplanes to airlift its LauncherOne rocket during launches.

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.

This deal once completed will give Virgin Orbit a fleet of three 747s for launching its rocket. The deal also suggests the company now has enough launch business to justify this expansion.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Col Beausabre

    “newly acquired aircrafts”

    Further proof of ignoramuses that exist in journalism – “aircraft” is both singular and plural.

    Other hot buttons of mine – putting the name of something before the description, ie: “USS New Jersey battleship” the correct phrasing is “Battleship USS New Jersey”. Calling a locomotive a “train”. And you run said locomotive. You only “drive” it in Britain.

    This is because of journalism “schools” which think that their graduates can write anything without knowing a single thing about the subject.

  • wayne

    Excellent stuff!

    R.E.M. –
    “Driver 8”

  • Alton

    Col Beausabre

    Going into Battle……..

    ? ? ? Cheers

  • Concerned

    I’ll be fascinated to see the longevity of this company. I can only see them living off DoD contracts that need responsive, distributed launch. There are already much cheaper rideshare options available from SpaceX, and the new orbital tug companies popping up will greatly lessen the appeal of Virginal Orbit’s azimuth flexibility for commercial customers and their somewhat shallower pockets.

  • Edward

    Concerned wrote: “I’ll be fascinated to see the longevity of this company. I can only see them living off DoD contracts that need responsive, distributed launch.

    As with all industries, each company has its advantages and disadvantages. Virgin Orbit has advantages that may suit several customers and disadvantages that may discourage some payloads from those same customers. We should not expect one company to attract all customers. It is one of the advantages to having competition. Even the price advantage from SpaceX’s rideshare option does not overcome the needs of certain payloads that the rideshare does not provide.

    Virgin Orbit has advantages that may keep it in business for many years.

  • Col Beausabre

    We should not expect one company to attract all customers.

    I once worked at a company where we had a live TV speech from our new CEO. “We only want our fair share of the market. All of it” I could then see why the Board hired him. And yes, our market share did go up on his watch

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