The UK is the ideal location to launch a rocket into space, according to Ian Annett, deputy chief executive of the UK Space Agency – and enabling future missions promises a massive financial boost for Britain.

Having rocket launch capabilities in the UK is vital from both an economic and national security standpoint, he said.

‘Immense excitement’

Asked during the Space-Comm Expo 2022 in September why space companies are choosing the UK to launch from, Annett said: “There’s a number of great reasons. Firstly, geography. We’ve got easy access to polar orbits, and sun synchronous ones as well.

“If you look at the global launch market that has continued to grow over the last few years, there’s definitely part of that market that the UK can access.

“It’s worth $15-20 billion globally, and for the UK, there’s certainly a portion that we can get. So economically it is really, really important.

“From an inspiration perspective, it’s just immense how excited we see people get around things like Artemis, but certainly for a UK launch as well.

“The other aspect of it is the ability to have some form of assured control over the access to space from your own territory.”

Virgin Orbit mission

Later this month, the first satellite launch from UK soil will take place.

Virgin Orbit’s carrier aircraft, ground support equipment, and rocket are now stationed in Cornwall and will soon take to the skies.

Made possible by funding from the UK Space Agency, the mission is on track for a November launch from Spaceport Cornwall.
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