WATCH: LauncherOne rocket gets taken under Virgin Orbit's wing for airborne launch system

Southern California-based Virgin Orbit has reached a milestone in developing its airborne orbital launch system.

The company says this week it mated a LauncherOne rocket to a special Boeing 747 at Long Beach Airport and will soon begin a series of flights that will culminate with a drop test in which the booster will be released from beneath the jet's left wing.

ICYMI: Virgin Atlantic launches second daily flight between Johannesburg and London 

Virgin Orbit

(Photo: Greg Robinson / Virgin Orbit / AP)

The system is intended to carry small satellites into orbit.

Virgin Orbit is a sister company of Virgin Galactic, which is developing an air-launched rocket plane for carrying tourists on suborbital flights into space.

Virgin Orbit

(Photo: Greg Robinson / Virgin Orbit / AP)

READ: Virgin Hyperloop One is set to launch their first European research centre in Spain 

Virgin Orbit said it already has hundreds of millions of dollars worth of launches on contract for a wide range of customers including NASA and the US Defense Department.

Virgin Orbit

(Photo: Greg Robinson / Virgin Orbit / AP)

SEE PICS: Virgin heading into the cruise business with women at the helm of the Scarlet Lady 

Virgin Orbit

(Photo: Greg Robinson / Virgin Orbit / AP)

Virgin Orbit

(Photo: Greg Robinson / Virgin Orbit / AP)

Find Your Escape by searching and comparing flight prices here. You can also sign-up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel ideas and deals directly to your mobile.