First orbital space launch from British soil to take off on Monday: NPR

Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, in front of Space Girl.

Hugh Hastings / Getty Images

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Hugh Hastings / Getty Images

Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, in front of Space Girl.

Hugh Hastings / Getty Images

The first orbital space launch from British soil is due to take off on Monday.

A modified Boeing 747 known as Cosmic Girl will take off from the Cornwall Spaceport in England. Once it reaches 35,000 feet in the air, the converted spacecraft will deploy a rocket, called LauncherOne, into space.

The LauncherOne rocket will deliver several payloads into orbit, including Wales’ first satellite and Oman’s first Earth observation satellite.

As well as being the first ever orbital launch from the UK, it is also the first commercial launch from Western Europe.

“We can’t wait to see the rocket take to the skies soon, carrying Earth-useful satellite technology into low Earth orbit,” said Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, in an Oct. 15 news release.

The converted craft, which will be operated by billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, was originally scheduled to take off in December before it failed to meet all license requirements on time. And while the historical “Start Me Up The mission — named after a Rolling Stones song — is due to start on Monday, with a few backup dates this month, just in case.

It launches as other parts of Europe try to get in on the spaceport action. There are new launch facilities in Scotland, Scandinavia and Germany.

“Spaceport Cornwall is already inspiring our young people to become the next generation of scientists and innovators — we look forward to the ground-breaking research and exploration that will be undertaken in the years to come, which will help us better understand and respond to the needs.” our planet, and climate change in particular,” Linda Taylor, who leads Cornwall Council, said in the same press release.

Virgin Orbit plans to live-stream the expected launch on Monday, and tickets to watch the launch from Spaceport Cornwall have sold out quickly. People living in the UK and Ireland should be able to spot the aircraft within 60 seconds of takeoff, while those in France, Portugal and Spain should be able to spot it soon after, according to SkyNews.

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