Sir Richard Branson just strapped a giant rocket to a 747 jet airplane with his space company Virgin Orbit

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Sir Richard Branson just strapped a giant rocket to a 747 jet airplane with his space company Virgin Orbit

Sir Richard Branson’s newest space company, Virgin Orbit, just debuted its full rocket-and-airplane launch system for the first time.

The airplane is a commercial 747-400 jet called “Cosmic Girl,” and the orbital-class rocket is named “LauncherOne.”

Virgin Orbit aims to use the retrofitted jet to tow LauncherOne as high above Earth as possible, release the rocket, and then blast a small-satellite payload into orbit around Earth.

“Air launch frees missions from traffic jams at the existing launch sites; eliminates the need for costly, fixed ground infrastructure; and makes the system more resilient to unfavorable weather conditions,” the company said in an emailed press release.

Here’s what the new system looks like.

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