Spaceport Cornwall gets go-ahead for lift-off
Spaceport Cornwall has been granted an operating licence, enabling it to host the UK’s first space launch.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that the Newquay site can be used to send satellites into space.
The first mission is expected to be carried out by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit company in the coming weeks.
A repurposed Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 plane named Cosmic Girl and Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket traveled from California in the United States to Spaceport Cornwall last week.
Their mission was given the title Start Me Up as a tribute to British band The Rolling Stones.
The 747 will lift off horizontally carrying the rocket, before releasing it 35,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean south of Ireland.
The plane will return to the spaceport, while the rocket will fire up its engine and take several small satellites into orbit with a variety of civilian and defense applications.
These will be the first satellites launched into space from Europe.
Satellites produced in the UK previously had to be sent to foreign spaceports to send them into space.
CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty described the award of the UK’s first spaceport license as “a historic moment”.
He continued: “We are proud to play our part in facilitating the UK’s space ambitions by assessing the safety, security and other requirements of these activities.
“This is another major step in enabling this country to become a premier launch nation.”