Private company launches UK’s first orbital rocket from a Boeing

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The aerospace company Virgin Orbit, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, launches this Monday (9) the first orbital rocket in the United Kingdom, in the spaceport of Cornwall, England.

The mission named “Start Me Up”, in reference to the song and album by the British band The Rolling Stones – part of the tradition of the company, which is also part of the Virgin group in the music industry, to name missions after iconic Virgin Records albums .

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The “LauncherOne” rocket will be launched at 7:16 pm (Brasília time) from a Boeing 747-400 that is nicknamed Cosmic Girl. Pedro Pallotta, specialist in astronautics, explains to CNN that the rocket is fixed on an adapted support, where the fifth turbine of the plane would be and, around 35,000 feet high, the rocket is released and follows its trajectory to space.

The space vehicle, which is 21.3 meters long, can carry up to half a ton of cargo into orbit and cost US$ 12 million (R$ 63 million) – which is considered cheap, according to an expert.

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“The advantage of Virgin Orbit is the low cost of 12 million dollars per launch and the flexibility of launching in several places, which allows to save fuel (rocket propellant) and to place more payloads in low earth or sun-synchronous orbit”, he says. Pallotta.

LauncherOne will take seven customer satellites into space, including commercial and government cargo.

The partnership is between the governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, the latter represented by the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) and the United Kingdom Space Command, and represents a milestone in the British aerospace trajectory. UK Science Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “As we get closer and closer to launching the first satellite from UK soil, it is great to see the progress made by Virgin Orbit, Spaceport Cornwall and all of the government in the UK. delivery of this historic mission, the first of its kind in Europe.”

“With 47,000 jobs across the UK, our growing space industry is a vital part of the economy and has an important role to play in catalysing investment, generating growth and prosperity. I look forward to working with this innovative industry and delivering on our National Space Strategy.”

This is the company’s first mission outside of US territory after Virgin Orbit signed contracts around the world to carry out launches in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Brazil and others. The company has plans to launch vehicles at the Alcântara Launch Center, in Maranhão, by 2024.

The takeoff is expected to take place after 7 pm with the launch of the rocket closest to 8 pm and can be followed live on the Youtube channel of
Virgin Orbit:

Source: CNN Brasil

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