Brian Cox describes the launch objectives of NASA’s Artemis 1 mission
The UK has boosted investment in its space industry in recent years in recognition of the economic opportunities presented by commercial space launches. Confirmed in July, the First UK satellite launch should take off before the end of the summer. When it does, the UK will be the first country in Europe to do so from its home country. It comes as NASA was forced to abort the launch of its new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Monday due to an engine cooling problem, highlighting the risks that remain with such ambitions.
In July, the full list of satellites to be carried into space aboard the UK’s first space launch was unveiled.
The scout satellite ‘DOVER’, built in Oxfordshire by space company Open Cosmos, completed the lineup, which includes the first Welsh-built satellite by Cardiff-based start-up Space Forge.
One of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit 747s will be to take off from the runway at Spaceport Cornwall carrying the rocket under its wing, before launching it into orbit at high altitude.
The launch will be the first from British soil and Virgin Orbit’s first mission outside the United States.
Sir Branson shared the news, tweeting: “The next Virgin Orbit mission will take off from Spaceport Cornwall and mark the first ever satellite launch in the UK. Very exciting times ahead.
First domestic satellite launch heralds new era for UK space industry
UK’s first satellites to be launched from Virgin Orbit aircraft
Scheduled for this summer, the launch is expected in the coming weeks, although an exact date is yet to be confirmed.
The United Kingdom will then become the first country in Europe to carry out a space launch from within its borders, a key ambition of the UK Government National Space Strategy.
Dr. Paul Bate, CEO of British Space Agencysaid: “The countdown is on for the first satellite launch from Spaceport Cornwall, with a full set of satellites confirmed by Virgin Orbit for what promises to be a historic moment for our burgeoning space sector.
“It’s fantastic to have RHEA Group’s DOVER satellite join the launch, which showcases both our domestic expertise in satellite manufacturing and the international interest in the UK as a launch destination. .
“The ability to launch satellites from UK soil will support our work to catalyze investment in the space sector, deliver new capabilities and champion the incredible role of space in benefiting life on Earth.”
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The Virgin Orbit One Rocket launcher in the Cornwall Spaceport hangar in Newquay
The Prime Minister visited the Shetland Spaceport stand at the Farnborough Airshow in July
The UK was the first country in Europe to introduce new spaceflight laws with the Space Industry Act 2018authorizing launches from British soil from 2022.
In March 2021, the government released a report claiming the UK was “Europe’s most attractive destination to host commercial launch services” due to its long coastline and island location.
Announcing the government’s national space strategy in September 2021, Boris Johnson said: “The days of the UK space industry idling on the launch pad are over – this government has what it takes, and this strategy marks the start of the countdown”.
The UK space industry has since enjoyed a resurgence and is now home to over 47,000 jobs across the country and generates billions of pounds of economic activity.
The government is investing heavily in the sector, as evidenced by the UK space agency annual budget for 2021 to 2022 amounting to £570m, is expected to rise to just above £600m over the next few years.
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The UK has seven spaceports, with more in Scotland than anywhere else
There is currently seven licensed spaceports across the UK.
Four of them are essentially modernized airports, from which special transport planes like Virgin Orbit can launch rockets into space, located in Cornwall, Snowdonia, Prestwick and Argyll Island.
The rest are platforms with vertical launch capabilities and are all located in Scotland, Sutherland, Outer Hebrides and Shetland.
The UK’s first vertical launches are set to take place in 2023 in Scotland, with the spaceports of Sutherland and Shetland vying to be the first to host the first liftoff.
The Shetland spaceport is touted as the most likely choice, although the rocket itself is being built by US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.
The first UK-produced rocket, Prime, is due to launch from the Sutherland site next year.
Spaceflight has enjoyed a renaissance over the past decade, with renewed interest and funding largely attributed to high-profile launches by private rocket companies.
SpaceX’s reusable boosters have captured the world’s attention in recent years, safely finding their way back to launch pads on land or at sea autonomously.
However, the cost and complexity of spaceflight was highlighted once again this week as NASA aborted the maiden launch of its Space Launch System (SLS) lunar rocket on Monday due to a cooling problem. engine.
Liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida is now scheduled for just after 6 p.m. UK time this Saturday.