Monday, January 9, 2023

LauncherOne - The first orbital rocket to launch from the UK

The first orbital rocket launch from UK soil is almost upon us - and you won't have to be right on site to see it for yourself. When it's carried skyward by Virgin Orbit's modified Boeing 747 "Cosmic Girl" from Spaceport Cornwall tonight at 10.16pm (GMT), it will not only be visible across the country, but people in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and France will also be able to spot it in the sky.

In the upper image - under Cosmic Girl's left wing is LauncherOne, which will be released at 35,000ft over the Atlantic Ocean before accelerating to 8,000mph on its mission to deploy seven satellites into orbit.

The path of the 21m (69ft) rocket from the point it is released is shown in blue on the lower image, with the circles on the line depicting its approximate location at each minute along the way.

Virgin Orbit says people in the UK and Ireland should be able to see LauncherOne within 60 seconds of ignition, while coastal regions in France, Portugal, and Spain will get a good view within two to three minutes, with the entire launch phase estimating to last approximately 10 minutes.

Among the satellites on board are a prototype orbiting factory for making high-value alloys and semiconductors, while another will join a constellation monitoring illegal fishing, smuggling, trafficking, piracy and terrorism.

It forms part of the UK government's National Space Strategy, which sets out how the UK will become the first country in Europe to launch satellites into orbit.

Image Credits: Virgin Orbit & Sky News

 

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