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Aerospace & Defense

Virgin sets up Japan spaceport to lure Asian satellite builders

Company picks Oita as its first regional launch site; missions slated from 2022

Virgin Orbit uses a modified Boeing 747, christened "Cosmic Girl," as a mobile launchpad that can fly to the best launch location over the ocean. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Orbit)

TOKYO -- Asia's first spaceport, located at Oita Airport on the Japanese island of Kyushu, is readying support for Virgin Orbit as the company looks to fire off its LauncherOne rocket in 2022.

Virgin Orbit -- a space venture of the Virgin Group -- will use a modified Boeing 747, christened "Cosmic Girl," as the launch platform for LauncherOne, which carries small commercial satellites into either a sun-synchronous or low-Earth orbit, depending on customer requirements.

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