The UK Space Agency will give $9.5 million to Virgin Orbit for the Cornwall spaceport

Richard Branson’s satellite launch company Virgin Orbit announced today that it has received final approval for a £7.35 million ($9.5 million) grant from the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) , funds to be used by Virgin Orbit to help establish its Cornwall-based launch facility. Virgin Orbit has raised funds and obtained regulatory approvals to establish the new launch site, which will be called Spaceport Cornwall and will be part of Cornwall Airport Newquay.

This site will provide a UK-based launch site for Virgin Orbit, providing domestic launch capabilities to the UK and providing a way for UK entities to do everything from build to launch in the country. The company is also working on developing a mobile “ground operating system,” which is essentially a series of towable trailers that Virgin Orbit can use to house ground crews that will support the missions of its LauncherOne vehicle, which is the aerial launch platform they are developing. for high altitude launches with low payload.

Virgin Orbit is one of two Virgin-branded space companies founded by billionaire Branson. The other, Virgin Galactic, just went public through an arrangement with Social Capital Hedosophia, a financing vehicle created by Chamath Palihapitiya and partners specifically for this purpose. Both companies use modified land-based aircraft used as high-altitude launch platforms for vehicles designed to then reach space. Virgin Orbit’s launch system supports small satellites aimed at orbit, while Virgin Galactic’s launch vehicle is designed to propel a suborbital passenger vehicle just beyond the edge of Earth’s atmosphere.

Orbit’s commercial goals give it a clearer path to revenue generation and profitability, as other companies, including SpaceX and Rocket Lab, have built businesses based on demand for launch capabilities, with small satellites making up a large percentage of that mix. If all goes as planned with Spaceport Cornwall, the company hopes to launch payloads from the location as early as 2021.

Related Articles

Back to top button