Virgin Orbit to Expands Fleet with 2 More Boeing 747s

L3Harris modified Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl airborne launch pad at its Waco, Texas aircraft modification center. (Credit: L3Harris Technologies)

Highlights:

  • Virgin Orbit signs agreement to secure two new airframes to meet U.S. national security and its allies’ launch demands
  • L3Harris will modify one aircraft, aims to deliver Virgin Orbit’s second airborne launcher by 2023
  • New cargo configuration expected to enable foreign spaceport launch and transport of rockets, support equipment

LONG BEACH, Calif. and MELBOURNE, Fla., May 10, 2022 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB), a leading satellite launch company, has signed an agreement with L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) to acquire two Boeing 747-400 airframes to support the growing need for U.S. national security and allies’ satellite launch demands.  

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.

“Virgin Orbit is at an exciting juncture in our growth as a company,” said CEO Dan Hart. “As we expand our fleet to serve customers worldwide, we’re enthusiastic to once again partner with L3Harris.”

“It’s inspiring for our team to see L3Harris’ aircraft engineering and modification experience in action on a mission-enabling platform that has performed brilliantly in its space launch role,” said Luke Savoie, President, ISR Systems, L3Harris. “We’re excited to help double Virgin Orbit’s innovative fleet so they can serve their customers with greater capacity and mission flexibility.”

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl has completed three commercial launches, successfully deploying 26 customer satellites into orbit for multiple commercial, government and military customers. The aircraft, which was previously acquired from Virgin Orbit’s sister company Virgin Atlantic, will continue to fly missions, including the first launch from the United Kingdom expected later this year out of Spaceport Cornwall.

About Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) operates one of the most flexible and responsive space launch systems ever built. Founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017, the company began commercial service in 2021, and has already delivered commercial, civil, national security, and international satellites into orbit. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from a modified 747-400 carrier aircraft that allows Virgin Orbit to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Learn more at www.virginorbit.com and visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @virginorbit, and on Instagram @virgin.orbit.

About L3Harris Technologies

L3Harris Technologies is an agile global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced defense and commercial technologies across space, air, land, sea and cyber domains. L3Harris has more than $17 billion in annual revenue and 47,000 employees, with customers in more than 100 countries. L3Harris.com.