Spaceport Cornwall experiences anomaly in launch

Published: 2-Feb-2023

An anomaly in launch has stopped satellites making it to space from the UK for the first time

UK-based Spaceport Cornwall aimed to make history by launching satellites to space in a rocket from UK soil, from a regular passenger airport in fact.

Though this first launch using the Virgin Orbit LauncherOne launch system was unsuccessful in its final mission, suffering an anomaly with the second stage, the rocket did in fact reach space. In more good news, the carrier 747 that was launching the payload made it back safe.

Now the company is planning further launches in the next 12 months. Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: "Yes, space is hard, but we are only just getting started."

The Centre for Space Technologies

The first horizontal satellite launch location in Western Europe required a top-notch facility and the Centre for Space Technologies (CST) was built as an integral part of the project. The unique facility with airside access enables space-related research and development activities.

For the CST, Cornish construction consultancy MWJV was in charge of construction, with Kier as the lead contractor and Bassaire organising the cleanrooms. Bassaire is one of the UK's longest-established specialists in the installation of cleanrooms.

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There are two main facilities making up the CST; The Space Systems Integration Facility and the Space Systems Operations Facility.

The Integration Facility is a launch-critical hangar-like building where currently Virgin Orbit and in the future additional launch operators, will test space technologies and satellites. Offering a 9m tall ISO Class 8 grade cleanroom, gantry crane and 870 sqm of integrated hall workspace, it’s where additional users will be able to test their products and services year-round outside of launch campaigns.

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