UK prepares for first historic rocket launch into space

UK prepares for its first historic rocket launch into space. Photo by Virgin Orbit

Virgin orbit´s mission plans to launch satellites into space for the first time from the UK 

Over 2000 people have gathered at the Newquay airport in Cornwall, to witness the historic launch of the first rocket to be sent into space from the UK.  

Engineers at the Virgin Orbit´s Start Me Up mission are making the final preparations, as a converted Boeing 747 is scheduled to take off from Spaceport Cornwall, carrying with it a rocket that will be launched into space.

The rocket will be carrying nine satellites, making this also the first time that Virgin Orbit will be conducting an international launch.  

Founded by the British billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Orbit has already completed four similar missions, that were launched from the U.S.  

This mission is a collaboration between Virgin Orbit, the U.K. Space Agency, the Royal Air Force, and Cornwall Council.

On Monday, January 9, in the evening, the plane will take off and release the rocket at an altitude of 35,000 feet (around 10,000 meters), an hour into the flight. The rocket will be launched over the Atlantic Ocean.  

“We’re all greens at the moment but of course, there’s a number of gremlins that can trip you up at the last moment”, said Ian Annett, the deputy chief executive of the UK Space Agency, in a quote cited by the Guardian.  

“We’re watching the weather closely but one of the advantages of horizontal launch is that you can quickly get above the weather. It’s looking all right for later.” 

The satellites carried by the rocket, belong to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, the sultanate of Oman, the US National Reconnaissance Office, and British startups.  

The launch had been earlier scheduled to take place last year, but was postponed due to regulatory and technical issues.

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Written by

Imran Khan