Cornwall satellite launch one ‘step closer’

The UK Space Agency has said that a planned satellite launch from Spaceport Cornwall is one step closer following the completion of a similar mission in the US this week.

On Thursday, Virgin Orbit successfully completed its third mission from California, launching several satellites into orbit from beneath the wing of a 747.

The UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council are supporting Virgin Orbit to launch satellites from Spaceport Cornwall, starting this summer, with the spaceport set to create 150 jobs in the local area.

According to the government, one of the commercial satellites launched in Thursday’s mission was manufactured in Scotland by Spire Global.

It said that these satellites were shipped from Glasgow to California for the launch and "demonstrates the potential value to the UK satellite industry of having a new launch capability in the UK".

“Congratulations to Virgin Orbit on another successful mission, which demonstrates the huge potential of innovative, air-launch technology to meet the needs of the modern satellite industry,” said Ian Annett, UK Space Agency deputy chief executive. “Having an RAF pilot at the controls demonstrates the UK’s commitment to working closely with Virgin Orbit ahead of their first launch from Spaceport Cornwall later this year.

“The UK is home to some of the world’s leading satellite manufacturers, which currently ship their products overseas for launch. We are supporting them by fostering a new domestic launch market, with spaceports and launch operators providing services across the UK and catalysing investment from all over the world.”

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