Cosmic Girl (a 747-400 used for launching things into space)1 has a network of silver-coloured stripes on its empennage, starting at the (closed-off) last cabin window, and going aftward and upward from there, with branches running onto, and up, the vertical tail; there also appears to be a similar stripe emanating from the (also-closed-off) third cabin window behind the second main-deck exit door and running downward onto the wing root:

ye newe stripeyes

(Image originally by Crishazzard at Wikimedia Commons; modified by me.)

What are these stripes for?

1: It actually had that name before it became a rocket launcher - it didn’t get it from Virgin Orbit.


1 Answer 1


It's aluminum "speed tape" being used to run wires around the outside of the fuselage, possibly for load cells or some other kind of sensor related to whatever is being tested and that was impractical to run internally. If you zoom in the image and look carefully at the vertical strip to the right and below TEST, you can make out a dark line in the middle of the tape that is a shadow from the wire bulging out. Strictly temporary.

It looks like two window panels have had their acrylic panes removed and replaced with aluminum blanking plates with holes for passing the wire out through the pressure hull, making it a simple job to return to the normal configuration.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ For those wondering, no, speed tape isn't ordinary duct-tape. It's specialized duct-tape. $\endgroup$
    – Mast
    Aug 8, 2019 at 19:08
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Speed tape is what ducks actually use... $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2019 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ It's not duct tape, which is plastic/fabric. It's an extra heavy duty variant of the aluminum tape you get at the hardware store. Much thicker with a stronger adhesive. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Aug 10, 2019 at 0:19

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