The launch of a historic Virgin Orbit rocket from Britain’s spaceport makes Britain Europe’s first ‘blast-off’ nation
THE UNITED KINGDOM made history tonight as the first European country to launch a rocket into space from its home soil.
The British Space Agency and Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit rocket company’s Start Me Up mission is set to herald a “new era” for the space industry.
The rocket piggybacked onto Virgin Orbit’s 747 aircraft, known as Cosmic Girl, before launching several satellites into Earth orbit from Cornwall Cosmodrome in Newquay.
The missile is expected to break loose at about 10,700 meters (35,000 ft) about an hour after launch and fell for a few seconds before zooming past Portugal and the Canary Islands.
By around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, Virgin Orbit mission leaders should know if the rocket successfully launched the satellites.
Around 2,000 members of the public gathered tonight to watch the ticketed event.
“The first orbital space launch from the UK scheduled tonight is a historic moment,” said Dr. Alice Bunn, President of industry association UKspace.
“We are on the cusp of an industrial revolution in space.
“Small satellites provide essential services for each and every one of us; They are the invisible enabler of our modern life and the UK is already a world leader in their manufacture… which is why having a launch capability in the UK is so strategic.”
Virgin Orbit received official launch licenses just a few weeks ago.
The long-awaited launch had suffered a series of setbacks, having been delayed due to technical issues and weather conditions since its launch in mid-December.
Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri, one of the UK’s largest satellite companies, said the launch would not only help support the economy during a cost-of-living crisis, but also strengthen defenses.
“It’s fantastic to see the UK space sector reaping the rewards of its investments over the last few years with the first ever launch from a UK spaceport,” he said.
“This inspiring achievement will boost confidence in the UK space sector, strengthen UK defence, and inject renewed enthusiasm into public awareness.
“Not enough has been done to inspire the people of Britain or show them the benefits we all enjoy from space.
“This launch will help move the needle. Today is a great day to be part of the UK space sector.”
According to UKspace figures, the UK space industry is worth around £14.8 billion a year and already provides around 42,000 jobs.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/10027122/virgin-orbit-rocket-launches-from-uk-spaceport-britain-europe/ The launch of a historic Virgin Orbit rocket from Britain’s spaceport makes Britain Europe’s first ‘blast-off’ nation