US air-launch specialist Stratolaunch has shown off the Boeing 747-400 it acquired after former operator Virgin Orbit was broken up earlier this year.

Stratolaunch, based in Mojave, bid for the aircraft after Virgin Orbit entered US bankruptcy protection weeks after the 747’s first attempt to launch satellites from the UK – an attempt which failed after the rocket suffered a malfunction.

Virgin Orbit was broken up and its assets – including the aircraft (N744VG) – were offered for sale.

Powered by GE Aerospace CF6 engines, the 747-400, which was flown to Mojave on 5 December from San Bernardino, has been repainted in Stratolaunch colours.

747-400 N744VG-c-Stratolaunch

Source: Stratolaunch

Formerly known as Cosmic Girl, the 747 has been renamed The Spirit of Mojave

Stratolaunch is involved in the design and launch of aerospace vehicles, and is currently engaged in tests of a hypersonic project using its distinctive six-engined Scaled Composites 351 twin-fuselage aircraft.

“The [747-400] symbolises expanded capability and reach to execute our hypersonic test mission,” it states.

Stratolaunch says the aircraft will spend “a small amount of time” undergoing modifications for its new tasks, and is scheduled to become operational in the first half of next year.