Search

UK’s First Space Launch Ready for Blast Off

As the first ever orbital space launch from British soil is getting ready to blast off from Cornwall, Chamber speaks to UK National Space Champion, David Morris MP about the opportunities for the UK.

Monday’s mission led by American company, Virgin Orbit will mark a major milestone for UK space.

The mission will see a repurposed 747 jumbo jet release a rocket over the Atlantic to take nine satellites high above the Earth.

Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl is to take off on Monday from Newquay Airport, Cornwall as the UK's first space launch
Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl is to take off on Monday from Newquay Airport, Cornwall (Image: Tmedia1)

Space launch provides “significant opportunities” for UK economy

The evening operation will launch from Newquay Airport in Cornwall, shortly before midnight GMT.

Among the satellites on board are a prototype orbiting factory that belongs to Cardiff-based company Space Forge which makes high-value alloys and semiconductors, and one to join a constellation of satellites monitoring illegal fishing, smuggling, trafficking, piracy and terrorism.

David Morris MP speaks to UK Space Agency ahead of the space launch
David Morris MP addresses executives at UK Space Agency pavilion on the potential of the U.K. space industry

Commenting on the launch, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Mel Thorpe said “What we’ve seen over the last eight years is this building of excitement towards something very aspirational and different for Cornwall, something that started off as a project that not a lot of people really believed was ever going to happen”

“What I think people have seen here in Cornwall is a small team that lives and breathes this county deliver something quite incredible.”

Official portrait of David Morris MP crop 2

David Morris MP

The UK National Space Champion

The UK’s National Space Champion speaks to Chamber ahead of the space launch in Cornwall.

The UK’s National Space Champion speaks to Chamber ahead of the space launch in Cornwall.

Britain is already a major player in the new space race, but most people don’t know it. More satellites are built here in the U.K. than anywhere outside the USA. Our Space industry supports around 50,000 jobs and worth over £16 billion to our economy and sees jobs and investment growing, but because we don’t launch them, it goes unnoticed.

Initially, large telecommunications satellites, that bring us TV channels and connect us across the globe to friends by phone that we now all carry and take for granted. This has increasingly happened predominantly over the past 25 years since they were launched into orbit. This was previously very costly and bespoke.

Then further applications were identified and we saw the potential and started building the Earth monitoring systems to keep a track on global climate change patterns.

The growth of a smaller cheaper generation of “cube-sats”, no bigger in some cases than a shoebox, that are in low earth orbit just above the atmosphere and will revolutionise our way of life in the next 25 years.

Via these satellites, internet is available to the remotest areas of the planet, helping disaster responses, tracking ships and will see a future of self-driving vehicles keep a safe distance apart.

In the past, the UK has launched satellites from all around the world and have been shipped as far away as New Zealand and French Guiana for launch.

The spaceport in Cornwall, and later this year more spaceports in Scotland and the Shetland Islands, will bring space accessible to the UK and competitive against foreign carriers to international customers giving UK the edge needed and a secure pathway into orbit. This will be a huge boost to the economy.

It’s envisaged this income will be worth £3.8 billion to the UK economy between now and 2030. I personally think this will be more once this first launch from Cornwall is achieved. It’s estimated that thousands of satellites will be launched by 2030 – the potential market is huge and will benefit our way of life and the economy.

The UK’s location is optimal and provides easy access to polar orbits and allow satellites to orbit geo globally so the UK will be best placed to be a key global player in the emerging new space race.

Share

Related Topics

Latest

Video Features

How Can we Level Up the UK Sustainably?

Does Democracy Require Proportional Representation?

Marking LGBT+ History Month 2024

How Can Plugging the Skills Gap Support Decarbonisation?

Subscribe to our newsletter for your free digital copy of the journal!

Receive our latest insights, future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup

Receive our latest insights as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.