A view of the Virgin Orbit headquarters in Long Beach, California, on August 23, 2021. Virgin Orbit is taking part in Britain’s first orbital launch on its soil on Monday. File Photo by Caroline BrehmanEPA-EFE
Jan. 9 (UPI) — Britain will hold its first-ever orbital space launch on its own soil Monday evening when a private-public joint collaboration led by Virgin Orbit will deliver satellites into space.
The mission, dubbed “Start Me Up” after the 1981 Rolling Stones song, is a joint effort by Virgin, the U.K. Space Agency, the Cornwall Council and the Royal Air Force.
The launch will carry satellites from seven customers to space, including commercial and government payloads from several nations and a collaboration between Britain and the United States.
“After ensuring that every technical aspect is sound and every regulation and code has been satisfied, it is gratifying to see this historic endeavor on the verge of coming to fruition,” Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said.
“This launch represents the opening of a new era in the British space industry and new partnerships across industry, government, and allies.”
The launch will take place at the Spaceport Cornwell. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne system, which sits on a Boeing 747, recently passed its final tests for the flight.
“Tonight’s planned first orbital space launch from the U.K. is a historic moment,” said U.K. Space’s President Alice Bunn. “Over the past 20 years, the U.K. space sector has built one of the most innovative and highly skilled sectors in our economy, valued at around [$17.9] billion a year.
“The sector already provides 42,000 jobs, and our analysis shows it could create a further 30,000 in the next decade, many of which are ‘green jobs’ in areas like climate change monitoring, smart transport routing and flood prevention.”
Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, said the launches of international partnerships have the potential of breaking new ground in space travel and include more countries and companies.