In January crowds gathered at Newquay Airport in the hope of witnessing history in the making. The mission “Start Me Up” was set to launch the first satellites from UK soil, via a Virgin Orbit LauncherOne rocket, shuttled into the atmosphere by a modified Boeing 747-400.
Although the mission was ultimately unsuccessful – with the rocket and its nine small satellites never making orbit – the experience has not dampened the spirits of those in the UK space industry. With two Scottish facilities planning launches for later this year, and with four more spaceports in the works, the nation’s space launch capability is set to take off. That is despite Virgin Orbit’s plans to furlough staff while the company finalizes a new investment plan.
This short video looks at the UK’s drive to become a competitive destination for space launches. One of the challenges is that the UK is entering a competitive market and UK space companies fear there is a skills gap among the UK workforce. On top of that, there are concerns about environmental sustainability and the growing issue of space junk – a threat to space missions, satellites, and ground-based observatories.
Find out more by reading the article “UK spaceports: the good, the bad and the ugly”.