Britain’s space industry set for new frontiers with Virgin Orbit


Britain’s space industry set for new frontiers as Sir Richard Branson’s company Virgin Orbit puts together final preparations for its Start Me Up mission

The first space mission to launch from Britain will blast off on Monday. 

Sir Richard Branson’s company Virgin Orbit is putting together final preparations for its Start Me Up mission that will see a modified jumbo jet take off from Newquay airport in Cornwall with a space rocket tucked under its wing. 

Plans for lift-off follow approval for the mission by the Civil Aviation Authority last month. 

High-flying: Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl aircraft will take with the LauncherOne rocket containing nine satellites

The launch window will open at 10.16pm on Monday night but there will be back-up dates later in January in case of delays. 

Named after The Rolling Stones’s 1981 single, Start Me Up will involve Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl aircraft taking off from a runway with the LauncherOne rocket containing nine satellites. 

Cosmic Girl will fly the rocket about 35,000 feet over the Atlantic before dropping it into freefall, after which LauncherOne will fire its booster engines to reach space. 

‘This launch represents the opening of a new era in the British space industry,’ said Virgin Orbit boss Dan Hart.

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