On August 1, Virgin Orbit welcomed home Cosmic Girl, the 747-400 rocket launch platform that will be used to launch small satellites into orbit. “Long Beach has long been the home of aerospace innovation, and we are thrilled that after months of significant modification work, Cosmic Girl, our first stage to orbit, is finally home,” Dan Hart, president of Virgin Orbit, said. “Virgin Orbit is the home stretch of integrating our LauncherOne rocket and ground systems for launch and to support our customers’ missions. Thanks to the support of the City of Long Beach and the Long Beach Airport, we employ and partner with some of the most talented aviation and aerospace engineers and technicians in the country. We look forward to keeping Long Beach’s aerospace heritage vibrant and enabling our customers to achieve space access.” Cosmic Girl will carry the LauncherOne to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before releasing it for its flight to orbit. The first flight is set to occur in the first half of 2018. “The arrival of Cosmic Girl to Virgin Orbit in East Long Beach is an exciting step forward for the future of aerospace in our city,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “We look forward to making Long Beach and Virgin Orbit leaders of job growth in STEM.” Virgin Orbit was founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments. According to a company statement, “Virgin Orbit and its sister companies – Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company – are opening access to space to change the world for good.” Pictured in the cockpit of the aircraft are, from left, Hart, Cosmic Girl pilot Kelly Latimer, and Garcia. (Photographs courtesy of Virgin Orbit)