Stratolaunch acquires B747-400
On 25 May 2023, Stratolaunch announced that it received approval from the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to acquire the modified Boeing B747-400 of bankrupt Virgin Orbit. The deal also includes all related parts and equipment to operate the Jumbojet and is expected to be finalized by 31 July 2023. The aircraft, N744VG (32745) had been sitting idle at Long Beach (CA) since Virgin Orbit's demise but has made several long flights on 21, 22, and 25 May 2023 to assess the status of the aircraft for the sale.
Stratolaunch is a company that has made it its mission to "accelerate access to the hypersonic environment". It's developing and testing a hypersonic testbed called the Talon-A. By doing so, the company aims to advance high-speed technology. It makes its technology available for aircraft manufacturers but also for the Department of Defense (DoD).
Its acquired Jumbojet will be modified to be able to launch the Talon-A from the air and is expected to be operational in 2024. It's not its first delivery vehicle, as the company also operates the world largest aircraft by wing-span for this, the Scaled Composites Roc. This six-engined aircraft is based at Mojave (CA) and conducted a first succesfull separation test of the Talon-A on 13 May 2023.
Illustration by Stratolaunch.