Virgin Orbit rocket arrives for first space launch from UK
The rocket has been shipped to the spaceport where it will launch the first orbital mission ever from UK soil.
The Virgin Orbit LauncherOne vehicle arrived in Newquay, Cornwall, late on Friday after being manufactured in California.
Now that the rocket is ready, it will most likely launch into space sometime early next month.
Nine different satellites, most of which were constructed in the UK, will travel a few hundred kilometres above the Earth.
The Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa Thorpe, was present to witness the rocket being unloaded and transported to the integration facility in Newquay.
To get to this position, the crew had to work incredibly hard for eight years and shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
The Virgin Orbit corporation, founded by British businessman Sir Richard Branson, will use a “horizontal,” air-launched technology for the nation’s first-ever orbital flight.
The company, which has its headquarters in Long Beach in the county of Los Angeles, launches its rockets into orbit from Cosmic Girl, a modified Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet.
The firm has only ever flown missions over the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of California.
The first launch outside of the US will be in the UK.
The Civil Aviation Authority has not yet issued operational licences to any of the British mission’s partners, including the spaceport, Virgin Orbit, and the satellite manufacturers. The government organisation is in charge of policing UK commercial spaceflight.
These papers should be supplied at any moment. In the interim, Newquay will keep moving forward with preparations.
Cosmic Girl, who arrived in Cornwall on Tuesday, has already started practising for flights.
The whole ground support apparatus left California on Friday as well. This includes the rocket fueling equipment.
The nine satellites that will travel to space are being placed one by one in their dispensers, which are the devices that will launch them from the rocket’s top once they have reached the proper altitude.
The first-ever Welsh satellite, ForgeStar-0, took the stage on Friday. This toaster-sized spacecraft, developed by Orbit Forge in Cardiff, will showcase technology for upcoming satellites that will produce sophisticated materials in space.