Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is set to launch the first orbital space rocket from British soil.
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said the crew would proceed with caution in the event of wind or lightning.
Watch the historic rocket launch live on Virgin Orbit’s YouTube page below.
Virgin Orbit, founded by Richard Branson, is set to launch Britain’s first orbital mission into space, making history for the country’s aerospace industry.
After several delays, Virgin Orbit was given the green light on December 21 to launch its “Start Me Up” satellite mission from Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay in southern England. Virgin Orbit is scheduled to launch on Monday, January 9.
At a press conference on Sunday at the spaceport attended by Insider, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said the rocket had already been primed and would be refueled later in the day.
“We are in a different airspace than before. Our pilots are ready,” he said, warning that Virgin Orbit will proceed with caution, especially if winds, lightning or other bad weather approaches the launch window.
Launch Me Up marks several major milestones, including Virgin Orbit’s first international mission, Western Europe’s first horizontal launch, and the UK’s first satellite launch and first orbital space mission from British soil.
Live Streaming: Watch Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl take off and launch a rocket
Watch the historic rocket launch live in the Virgin Orbit YouTube livestream below, starting at 4:30pm EST on Monday.
The rocket takes off horizontally, compared to other space missions that take off vertically, such as those operated by SpaceX and Blue Origin.
Cosmic Girl, a modified Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 aircraft, is expected to take off from Spaceport Cornwall between 5:16 p.m. ET and 6:16 p.m. ET with a LauncherOne rocket under the left wing. When the plane reaches an altitude of 35,000 feet – about 40 minutes after takeoff – the pilot will press a button that launches a 70-foot two-stage rocket into the air.
Cosmic Girl is expected to return to the spaceport an hour later, as planned by Virgin Orbit. Meanwhile, LaucherOne will accelerate into the sky before the first stage separates from the second. When the second stage reaches low Earth orbit, it will release a batch of nine satellites.
Once all the satellites are delivered, the second stage will fall back to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere.
Britain wants to be a ‘science superpower’
Overall, this will be Virgin Orbit’s sixth mission. The company named the mission “Start Me Up” in homage to The Rolling Stones, the famous British rock band.
During a press conference, Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: “I can’t wait for the UK to join this exclusive launch club.”
In response to an Insider’s question about where the Start Me Up mission puts the UK in the space industry, Ian Annett, deputy director general of the country’s space agency, said it “allows us to grow so that we can become a scientific superpower”.
Read the original article in Business Insider