Late on Friday night, a military plane brought the LauncherOne vehicle used by Virgin Orbit all the way from California, where it was manufactured, to Newquay, Cornwall. The rocket will now be readied for its journey into orbit, which is expected to take place at some point during the following month. The journey will take place a few hundred kilometers above the surface of the Earth, and it will be made by nine separate satellites, the majority of which were constructed in the UK.
The head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa Thorpe, was present to observe the unloading of the rocket and its transportation into the integration facility in Newquay. “In order to get to this point, it has taken our staff eight years of nothing but extremely hard labor, along with their blood, sweat, and tears. “And just within the past week, there has been a great deal going on. After the satellites and the carrier plane arrived, the ground support equipment was brought in, and now the rocket is being launched. This has been one action-packed day after another. She said that it was difficult to take everything in at once.
The “horizontal,” air-launched technology that will be used for the first ever orbital mission launched from the United Kingdom will be designed by the British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s business, Virgin Orbit. The company’s headquarters are in Long Beach, in the county of Los Angeles, and their rockets are launched into space from underneath the wing of a modified version of a Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet called Cosmic Girl. To this day, all of the organization’s missions have taken place in the general vicinity of the coast of California, over the Pacific Ocean.
The launch event will take place for the first time outside of the United States in the United Kingdom. The Spaceport, Virgin Orbit, and the companies that build satellites are all still waiting for their operational licenses from the Civil Aviation Authority. This holds true for all of the participants in the British endeavor. In the United Kingdom, the government agency in charge of regulating commercial spaceflight is responsible for doing so. This documentation is anticipated to be distributed at any moment now. In the meantime, Newquay will keep moving full steam ahead with their preparations.
The flight preparations for the Cosmic Girl, which arrived in Cornwall on Tuesday, have already begun. Also on Friday, the ground support equipment that had been shipped from California was finally delivered. This comprised the rigs that were used to supply fuel to the rocket. And one by one, the nine satellites that are going to be sent into orbit are being placed in their dispensers. These dispensers are the mechanisms that will push the satellites out the top of the rocket once they have reached the appropriate altitude. On Friday, it was ForgeStar-0’s turn, making history as the first satellite ever launched from Wales. This spacecraft, which is about the size of a toaster and was built in Cardiff by Space Forge, will demonstrate technology for future satellites that will be able to produce sophisticated materials in space.