Play / pause Virgin Orbit – Cosmic Girl

Virgin Orbit – Cosmic Girl

  • Sqdn Ldr Mathew Stannard
  • Interview by: Ewan Burnet


CosmicGirl is a 747.

It used to be owned by Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Orbit bought the airplane.

They stripped out and made it very light.

So it's a very different airplane

It's modified to carry a rocket.

It does what's called air launch. So

rocket on the airplane

So we will at Spaceport

Get airborne like a normal airplane,

Just trying to get to height as quick

roughly about 30,000 feet.

And we enter what we call a race track.

The race track is an area

everything to happen at once.

So we have a terminal count,

Chilling, pressurizing.

Getting the engine ready.

It's a 15 minute process.

At the end of that 15 minute

It doesn't want to wait 4 minutes.

It's ready and it has to go now.

And at that point,

and an aggressive nose up attitude

We're looking for exact speed to get rid

and you hit that parameter.

You press the button.

At the moment,

You have that is it done a work?

Is it going to come off?

Have we done it right?

And it's about a half second delay.

And then you hear this huge clunk

hold in the 70,000lb rocket

In about 5 seconds,

just this deep, deep roar and that's

hand bank, look out the left window

And you've got the window frame.

This rocket

Just going for it, you know?

And it is accelerating one hell of a rate.

The rocket falls away.

We hear nothing at this point.

We've just lost 70,000lb

the airplane straight away. It's

We know that the airplane gets some speed

It's doing that.

The challenge is that gives you

The auto throttle is don't work

I can be very careful

and when I'm doing the launch release

You know, the the you're doing a lot

as a pilot to keep the airplane

And then lastly, if we if we come back

is the additional challenge of landing

that's only got 18 inches of clearance,

to inches of clearance

and we're trained for it, we're prepared

And the challenges

Very impressive.

What is a passenger jet at very, very old

can do the job of it does is a big rocket.

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