Queen's Platinum Jubilee to be celebrated with Britain’s first-ever space launch


Virgin Orbit is tipped to be providing the rocket from Spaceport Cornwall. For the launch to be economically viable, it would need to deliver what is known as a “payload” into space. This could involve launching satellites that are used for commercial purposes. 

The Government owns satellite company OneWeb, which operates a satellite network providing air, land, sea, and space communications. And ministers are reportedly keen for OneWeb to use UK launch capacity when it becomes available in 2022. While Spaceport Cornwall has not yet been determined as the launch site, it has said it plans to be ready for its first flight by June 2022. This would make for perfect timing for the 70-year anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.

But Lockheed Martin’s Shetland spaceport and UK company Orbex, which operates out of Space Hub Sutherland, are also in competition with Spaceport Cornwall to provide the launchpad.

The UK space sector has reportedly said there has been a “great keenness from industry to do this for the Jubilee”.

Express.co.uk spoke to Orbex CEO earlier this month, who claimed that his company is well ahead in its preparations to launch low-earth orbit satellites.

He said: “Right now, I think it is widely recognised that we are well ahead of anyone else doing this in Europe, probably two to three years ahead of other people at this point.”

But Britain has still never launched a rocket into orbit from its own turf.

Progress was made on the goal to complete the first launch earlier this year, when the Civil Aviation Authority became the official space regulator that could provide licences from Britain.

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets are capable of carrying payloads of up to 300kg.

OneWeb rockets weigh around 150kg each.

It is planning to launch 648 satellites into low-Earth orbit in total.

So far, most OneWeb satellites have been launched from Russia by French company Arianespace.

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The UK Space Agency was set up in 2010 and has been working towards that target ever since.

The agency gave financial support to Spaceport Cornwall, SaxaVord Spaceport (Shetland) and Space Hub Sutherland.

Each of the spaceports would be able to facilitate a wide range of customers, which include government agencies to academia.

They would do so by using space data for activities like observing weather patterns and monitoring climate change.


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