​Virgin Galactic makes satellite launch service new company

File: Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, is developing technology to launch rockets into space from a airborne Boeing 747.
File: Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, is developing technology to launch rockets into space from a airborne Boeing 747.
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Virgin Galactic's California-based small satellite launch provider is now a separate company.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson announced Thursday that the new company headquartered in Long Beach is called Virgin Orbit.

The company has been developing an air-launch system for small satellites called LauncherOne.

The LauncherOne rockets will be released from a Boeing 747 jet named Cosmic Girl.

Virgin Orbit says it already has substantial launch orders for the system, which is in an advanced phase of hardware testing.

The new company's first president is veteran aerospace executive Dan Hart. He was formerly Boeing Co.'s vice president of government satellite systems.