Virgin Orbit gets UK licences for space launch
December 21, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Virgin Orbit has received the final licences from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to commence launches from Spaceport Cornwall, in Newquay, UK.
The CAA said that Sir Richard Branson’s company demonstrated it has “taken all reasonable steps to ensure safety risks arising from launch activities are as low as reasonably practicable”.
Virgin Orbit could now launch its first batch of satellites within the next few weeks. The debut Cornwall mission has been named ‘Start Me Up’ in tribute to The Rolling Stones hit song.
A Virgin Orbit converted Boeing 747 will carry Virgin’s LauncherOne rocket carried under the aircraft’s port wing. The aircraft will detach the rocket at 35,000 ft over the Atlantic, with the rocket carrying the multiple small satellites onto their orbits.
CAA director for space regulation, Tim Johnson, said: “This is another major milestone in enabling the very first orbital space launch from UK shores, and these licences will assist Virgin Orbit with their final preparations for launch. Effective licensing forms an integral part of UK space activity, and with public safety at the heart of our decision making we’ve worked with Virgin Orbit to assess their applications and issue licences within our expected timelines.”