Cornwall Launch Set for 14th December – Maybe7th Dec 2022
The BBC reports that Virgin Orbit has set a provisional date for the first-ever launch from the UK. Virgin Orbit has been claiming that the Cornwall launch will occur before the end of 2022.
Cornwall launch permission missing
There are a few boxes left to be ticked off. According to the BBC, one of those is a fueling rehearsal that is scheduled to occur in the next few days.
However, there is a matter of licencing. Spaceport Cornwall has received a licence for launch activities. However, as of the time of writing, Virgin Orbit has not received its permission to launch. There is no indication that the government is prepared to actually issue the permit despite its overall willingness. To that end, Virgin Orbit and Cornwall Spaceport have repeatedly emphasized that this is a new procedure and that they are working closely with the government to ensure that the permission is granted.
Official notice has been given regarding the airspace and sea off the coast of Ireland, where Virgin Galactic’s Boeing 747, Cosmic Girl, will fire Launcher One into space from about 35,000 feet.
The upcoming fueling practice is only part of the exercises underway at Spaceport Cornwall. Cosmic Girl was sent on a practice run over the sea on 2nd December.
In an interview with Orbital Today, Spaceport Cornwall CEO Melissa Thorpe stated that the interaction between the spaceport’s personnel and Virgin Orbit’s has been very close, and that “we’re basically one big team to get this launch done.”
Coming soon, but when?
Given the lack of clarity over when Virgin Orbit’s launch licence will be issued, the question arises as to whether the company is trying to goad the government into action by making the announcement. However, every indication is that the licence will be issued and that the practice will pay off with the first-ever satellite launch from the UK.