The UK’s commercial spaceflight programme is set to take off with its first ever orbital satellite launch.
The first launch will take place from Spaceport Cornwall in the south-west of England as a ‘horizontal launch’.
A specially modified Boeing 747 from Virgin Orbit called Cosmic Girl, with a rocket attached under its wing, will take off from a runway. In flight over the sea, the LauncherOne rocket will launch from the wing, taking multiple small satellites into orbit. The plane will then return to the Spaceport, able to launch more satellites in future.
Several small satellites will be launched into orbit on the first UK mission for launch for navigation and communications applications
Several of the satellites have been built in the UK, including a research satellite from RHEA Group, which was built by Open Cosmos in Oxfordshire.
The first Welsh satellite will also be on the launch, from Cardiff-based Space Forge. It will test the process of using the unique microgravity environment of space to manufacture special materials that are much more difficult to make on Earth.
There are several other spaceports currently planned or under construction in England, Scotland and Wales.
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