This evening I am sat watching the stream of the Virgin Orbit launching from the UK, which is launching from Cornwall. The payloads are small satellites and the launch is from a two stage rocket under the wing of “Cosmic Girl” the Virgin Orbit 747. This isn’t the first launch from Virgin Orbit (launched from the US), however it is a first for the UK and Europe and a pivotal moment in this countries space history.
I can remember sat in a school hall back on the 12th April 1981 watching the first NASA shuttle launch (Columbia) on a large tube TV, sat in awe as the shuttle took off for the first time. Forward in time to now where I am sat on my sofa (not in shorts sat on the wooden floor as I was back in 1981) watching on a mobile and laptop with a hot coffee.
A launch of this type (Air Launch) is not new as there have been many different types, but the ability to launch into space is more recent. The Air Launch method provides a more cost effective and easier method of launch. It does limit the size of items that can be can sent into space by this method at the moment, however it opens up the space economy to a bigger audience.
A good launch but, unfortunately ending with the satellites being lost as they could not be released from the rocket.
It will be an interesting follow to see where this takes the UK in its space capabilities and future Space Ports for both air and vertical launches.
The market in future jobs in this area has become more accessible and will hopefully inspire the younger generations to study STEM subjects and become part of this industry.