As long as there are no last-minute technical hitches – and the Cornish weather does not spoil the party – the historic Start Me Up mission will take off on Monday night from Spaceport Cornwall, blasting nine satellites into orbit.
It will be a triumph for the spaceport, which has faced scepticism over the years that such an adventure could be launched from an area more associated with surfing than hi-tech projects, and boosts the UK’s position as an up and coming space nation.
At the centre of the mission is a repurposed Boeing 747 aircraft called Cosmic Girl fitted with Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket carrying the nine satellites. The 747 will take off from Spaceport Cornwall before releasing the rocket at 35,000ft over the Atlantic Ocean to the south of Ireland.
The plane will return to the spaceport, while the rocket will take the small satellites, with a variety of civil and defence applications, into orbit. They will be the first satellites launched into space from Europe.
It is an odd place to launch satellites from. You generally want to launch closer to the equator for maximum propulsion by the earth spin.
That’s why European satellites launch from French Guiana normally.
Edited by Victoria Watcher, 09 January 2023 - 01:00 AM.