Newquay. The planned satellite launch in Great Britain unexpectedly encountered problems on Tuesday night. “It appears that an anomaly prevented us from reaching orbit,” tweeted the US company involved, Virgin Orbit.
You evaluate the information. An employee of the British space agency described the mission a little later as “unsuccessful”. The rocket didn’t reach the required altitude and the satellites couldn’t send out, UK Space Agency’s Matt Archer told reporters at Spaceport Cornwall.
In the next few days there will be an investigation to find out how the technical failure could have happened and how to proceed.
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Previously, a jumbo jet was considered flying for the first time launch pad flown from British soil for space satellites. The converted machine, called “Cosmic Girl”, took off from Newquay Airport in south-west England late Monday evening as planned.
At a height of around 10.7 kilometers above the Atlantic Ocean, the converted Boeing 747 aircraft was then to send a launch vehicle into space, which in turn was to put nine small satellites into orbit. Apparently there were problems. What exactly happened was initially unclear. The plane, meanwhile, returned to Earth safely and as planned, it said.
Similar launches in 2021 in the US
The US space company Virgin Orbit, owned by British billionaire Richard Branson, has been carrying out similar launches in the USA since 2021. In honor of the British rock band Rolling Stones, the mission was called “Start Me Up” after the hit of the same name by the group around frontman Mick Jagger.
Newquay is one of a total of seven planned spaceports in the United Kingdom. The first vertical launch of a rocket is planned in Scotland later this year. The government hopes the space industry will contribute around £3.8 billion (€4.3bn) to the UK economy over the next decade.