Editor’s update for 4:34 pm ET: Virgin Orbit’s “Start Me Up” launch webcast is live in the window above and also available on YouTube (opens in new tab). New flight time target for Space Maiden launch vehicle 17:01 EST (2201 GMT). Today’s opening window is passing 18:00 EST (2300 GMT).
NEWQUAY, United Kingdom – A giant leap will take place for the UK space sector tonight, Monday (January 9), as Virgin Orbit prepares for its first launch from Britain and Europe.
There will still be a launch that could be hampered by bad weather or technical glitches Virgin Orbit’s first from somewhere other than the company’s US base in California’s Mojave Desert. It will also be the first orbital launch from the UK, although the country previously launched a satellite on an indigenous rocket from Australia in the early 1970s. “a new mission calledGet Me Started,” will see Virgin Orbit’s converted Boeing 747-400 aircraft after a song by the legendary British Rolling Stones. Space Girl Take off from the airport in Newquay, a popular tourist town on the scenic Atlantic coast of Cornwall in southwest England.
If all goes as planned, Cosmic Girl will take off from Newquay Airport, now called Cornwall Spaceport, housed under the wing of Virgin Orbit’s two-stage Launcher One rocket. 4:40 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. EST (2140 and 2300 GMT) tonight. It will then climb 35,000 feet (10.6 kilometers) above the Atlantic Ocean before releasing the rocket for about an hour into flight. Launcher One will perform one orbital burn with each of two stages before releasing its payload of nine small satellites. You can watch the launch on YouTube (opens in new tab) starts with in the window above 16:00 EST (2100 GMT)Courtesy of Virgin Orbit or directly on the company’s YouTube (opens in new tab).
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“We’re going to do a three-minute burn on the first stage, followed by about a six-minute second stage burn,” Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said during a pre-launch press conference on Sunday (January 8). “We’ll coast around Antarctica, pass by Australia. Then we’ll look at final burn and payload deployment.”
Hart added that the night launch location, which could be frustrating for spectators, was chosen because of the orbital requirements of the customers’ satellites.
The missile, which arrived in Great Britain in October, completed its training wetsuit training (full summary of pre-review procedure) last week. According to Hart, the Virgin Orbit team was ready to refuel later on Sunday.
The Start Me Up mission for Cornwall Spaceport, which received its spaceport license from the UK Civil Aviation Authority in November, hopes to be the start of a long and fruitful partnership for the region, as well as the whole country.
“The space industry is worth around £6.5bn [$7.7 billion] every year for the UK economy,” said Ian Annett, deputy director-general of the UK Space Agency, which is funding the development of Cornwall Spaceport, during a press conference.
“As a country, we are absolutely fantastic at designing and building satellites: we build more satellites outside the United States than anywhere else,” he said. “So it helps us develop the ability that ends up being able to do things.”
The Cornwall space is one of seven locations in the UK funded by the UK Space Agency in 2017 to develop spaceport sites suitable for launching small satellites. low Earth orbit. Other launchers are also being built SutherlandIn the north of Scotland and in the Shetland Islands Off the coast of Scotland, both are designed to serve conventional, vertical missile launches.
Melissa Thorpe, CEO of Spaceport Cornwall, said it cost less than £20 million ($24 million) to make the small Newquay airport space-ready.
“The basics were already here,” Thorpe said. “We have one of the longest runways in the UK, access over the sea and a team with the will to turn it into a spaceport.”
He said that for more efficient maneuvering of the “Cosmic Girl” work was done on strengthening the taxi ways and strengthening the turning pads. The airport also built a brand new Space Systems Integration Facility where customer satellites can be safely integrated into the rocket fair.
During its UK debut, Virgin Orbit will launch nine payloads In-orbit manufacturing experience by UK company Space ForgeA suite of cubesats designed to study the ionosphere (the upper region of Earth’s atmosphere where space weather occurs) from the UK Defense Science and Technology Laboratory and an innovative navigation satellite co-funded by the European Space Agency.
UK weather forecasters the Met Office are forecasting fair weather for Newquay on Monday, with only a 10% chance of rain during the day. In the event of a last-minute cancellation, additional release windows will be opened on Friday (January 13), Sunday (January 15), January 18, January 19 and January 20.
Virgin Orbit is the sister company of space tourism-focused Virgin Galactic, both companies are owned by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, but according to Thorpe, there are currently no plans to bring space tourism to Cornwall.
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