Spaceport Cornwall is Ready to Welcome American Aerospace Company Virgin Orbit

25th Feb 2021
Virgin Orbit

Spaceport Cornwall has the potential to become the first horizontal launch facility in Europe, which means that, soon enough, Boris Johnson will have some appealing offers to make to Joe Biden. In 2022, American aerospace company Virgin Orbit should start commercial launches from Cornwall. However, this is not the only space project and a potential collaboration opportunity for Washington and London.

Spaceport Cornwall & Other Space Projects to Unite US & UK

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit has already tested its LauncherOne, successfully executing a suborbital launch from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. However, this is not the only launch site Virgin has in mind. UK-based Spaceport Cornwall should become another launch site for the American company. From the UK’s perspective, this space project will create 350 new job opportunities in the area and potentially add £200million to the local budget. 

Today, both the UK’s Prime Minister and the newly-inaugurated US President are getting ready for the G7 summit. According to Melissa Thorpe, Head of Cornwall Spaceport, this meeting will give Johnson a chance to congratulate Biden on his new position and strengthen future collaboration odds. She believes that Cornwall, its Goonhilly Earth Station, in particular, has great potential for both countries. She adds that everyone involved in this space project is anxious to showcase what the spaceport has to offer for Virgin. 

As a reminder, most spaceports today use vertical launch technology. However, this traditional approach to rocket launches is not as cost-effective as horizontal launch technology. Virgin Orbit is one of the first companies ready to practice a more budget-wise approach. The company has a modified Boeing-747 plane that releases the rocket at a 30,000 feet altitude. After this, LauncherOne deploys satellites to LEO.

Ms. Thorpe adds that creating new job opportunities is vital for the economy – especially in post-COVID times. While Cornwall Spaceport does not have launch permission yet, everyone involved in this space project is willing to have Virgin Orbit on board. 

However, this is not the only space collaboration opportunity for the UK and the US. Recently, the UK government bought OneWeb, a British satellite company, out of bankruptcy. OneWeb is willing to create a constellation of satellites ensuring broadband Internet access in remote areas – a project similar to SpaceX’s Starlink. Head of Spaceport Cornwall believes that investing in OneWeb and its constellation can become another profitable collaboration opportunity for the US and UK. 

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