Yet the clue was there, written on her side – Cosmic Girl. During her 14-year career with us – stats geeks, this is for you – G-VWOW flew 8,265 flights, was in the air for 66,430 hours, carried 2,506,175 customers, (315,582 in Upper, 338,756 in Premium and 1,851,837 in Economy) and flew from Heathrow to New York 1045 times.
That’s impressive, but let’s be honest, nothing particularly unexpected. What makes this aircraft so special is what happened after she delivered her last customer to their destination and left the Virgin Atlantic fleet. On 29 October 2015, G-VWOW flew to San Antonio to start a new and very different life. She was acquired by Virgin Orbit, the sister company to Virgin Galactic, and she’s now centre stage of their space launch operations. Her new job? An airborne launch platform, using a rocket called LauncherOne slung under her wing to deliver small satellites into orbit. This is all terribly exciting stuff. Here at Virgin Atlantic, we’re thrilled to see one of our aircraft get this new lease of life and perform such an unusual and important role.