What would be the practical benefit of this?
Someday, Virgin Orbit should acquire of the B-1B Lancer bombers in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB and use it as a launch platform for the LauncherOne. This could be akin to the 1990s proposal to use the Tu-160 Blackjack as a launch platform for the unbuilt Burlak air-launched SLV.
Quote from: SweetWater on 06/08/2021 04:19 amWhat would be the practical benefit of this?I guess because the B-1B has a higher flight ceiling and can fly supersonic. Technically, LauncherOne fits within the payload limit. Not sure if you could launch something like LauncherOne while supersonic. I'm guessing there would have to be modifications for external carry on the centerline replacing internal storage, the payload bay doors, etc. The biggest thing the B-1B has launched externally is a ~2000 pound cruise missile (compared to the ~60,000 pound LauncherOne)...but the Boeing 747 wasn't really designed with launching a 60,000 pound missile in mind either.
strap the entire B1-B to the top of a modified Cosmic Girl 747 carrier aircraft. ( same as was done with STS)
Ditch the B1-B's GE F101 turbofan engine pods & replace them with two SABRE testbed engines.