A photo taken in October shows Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl jet on the runway with a LauncherOne rocket tucked beneath its left wing. (Virgin Orbit Photo)
Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 jet, nicknamed Cosmic Girl, was spotted today taking off from California’s Victorville Airport with what appears to be a rocket under its wing.
When you put that fact together with the flight tracking data for the outing, it seems to add up to the first captive-carry flight for Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket.
The key evidence comes in the form of a video passed along by a Twitter user with the handle Zia Aerospace, or @zia_aero.
Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl first flight with rocket under wing. pic.twitter.com/5tHTxTS1RE
— Zia Aerospace (@zia_aero) November 18, 2018
“I was there just by chance dropping off a rental car … only armed with a camera phone,” Zia Aerospace told me in a follow-up tweet.
Next Spaceflight’s Michael Baylor took notice of Cosmic Girl’s course, as plotted by FlightRadar24, and figured something was up:
Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl performed another test flight today. I wonder if a rocket was under her wing?