Virgin Orbit completed the first drop test of its LauncherOne rocket this week. The drop test marks a major milestone in the program to send small satellites into space aboard a rocket launched from a modified 747.

Drop test

The drop test was the first release of the rocket from the 747 launch platform after months of captive carry tests. Because of the unique method employed by Virgin Orbit to launch the rocket, the moment of release is visible in Flightradar24 data.

Flight track of Virgin Orbit's drop test
Flight data from the Virgin Orbit drop test showing the moment of LauncherOne release

In the image above, it is easy to see the climb and turn performed by the 747 as it releases the rocket from under its left wing. Below LauncherOne is mounted to Cosmic Girl, the 747 launch platform that previously flew for Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Orbit’s 747
Virgin Orbit’s 747 ‘Cosmic Girl’ with LauncherOne attached

Additional tests are upcoming before the first live fire launch of the rocket. Stay tuned!

Ian Petchenik’s love of aviation began at an early age growing up next to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. As Flightradar24’s director of communications and co-host of the AvTalk podcast Ian now gets to share that passion for aviation with millions of Flightradar24 users and listeners around the world.

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