The countdown to Cornwall’s space launch has begun as Virgin Orbit readies for Start Me Up, the newly-titled forthcoming launch from the UK.

The launch provider’s carrier aircraft, a Boeing 747, has now arrived at Spaceport Cornwall, Cornwall Airport Newquay.

On track for a November launch, Start Me Up is led by a joint mission between the US and UK governments, launched by Virgin Orbit, the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA), UK Space Command, and Spaceport Cornwall.

Launch of firsts

Start Me Up will be a launch of firsts: the first orbital launch ever from the United Kingdom; the first international launch for Virgin Orbit, and the first commercial launch from Western Europe.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO at the UK Space Agency, said: “Seeing Virgin Orbit’s aircraft take off is an exciting reminder that we are close to the first launch from UK soil and first launch of a satellite from Europe.

“This will be an iconic moment in the history of UK space endeavours, so it is fitting that the mission has been named after a song from the Rolling Stones, one of the UK’s most iconic bands.”

Responsible launch

Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall who welcomed Cosmic Girl to Spaceport Cornwall, said: “This is the moment we have been waiting eight years for and my team could not be more excited to welcome Cosmic Girl to the UK.

“A converted 747 using a converted airport to get to space is a perfect example of what we are working to achieve at Spaceport Cornwall. By making use of existing assets we want to set the bar for responsible launch – Starting Up launch in the UK with ‘Space For Good’ at its core.”
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