Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic still are going strong with simultanously developing touristic and cargo launch vehicles.
Virgin Galactic continues developing not only own space touristic program, but puts stress also on their commercial launch service project. After presentation of SpaceShipOne on 19 February 2016 (You can read more here), the time has come for necessary modifications of Cosmic Girl – lifting plane for LauncherOne launch vehicle. Cosmic Girl is passenger Boeing 747-400, decommissioned from Virgin Atlantic (G-VWOW delivered by Boeing in 2001). Plane went through special maintenance test combined with overhaul and general inspection in covering even minor details from “D” level. Results were positive and now, Virgin can start modifications to prepare 747-400 for role of motherplane for LauncherOne. Main modifications will cover strengthening structure of the wing, installing additional equipment for communication with LauncherOne, mounting adapters to hook up LauncherOne under left wing and slight changes in steering surfaces to compensate additional weight under left wing. LauncherOne will be attached to under wing instead of special fifth engine attachment point (normally used for transporting engines). It is located between fuselage and second engine (in multiengine planes, numbers are given to engines from left to right). LauncherOne will remain under wing with 200 kg payload onboard before Cosmic Girl will reach altitude of 10000 m -15000 m. On this altitude it will be dropped and after reaching safe distance from Cosmic Girl it will start its Newton engine fueled with LOX/RP-1 (LauncherOne is based on two stages both liquid fueled) and will start autonomous flight to SSO.
First launch of LauncherOne and flight of Cosmic Girl are planned for 2017 from Virgin Galactic facility on Mojave, California. Virgin has already signed first contract with OneWeb (Company with plan to provide global internet broadband service for individual customers using planned constellation of 700 satellites) for 39 launches with estimated cost of $10000000 per mission.