The UK is in the Space Rocket Business

Image (Credit): LauncherOne rocket after arriving in Cornwall, England. (UK Space Command)

Later this year, the United Kingdom (UK) is getting into the commercial space business with Virgin Orbit’s launch of the LauncherOne rocket. The 70-foot long rocket stuffed with a satellites will be loaded onto Virgin Orbit’s Boeing 747 (called the “Cosmic Girl”) for a mid-air launch. It will be the first satellite launch from the UK.

While the launch was planned for earlier this year, Virgin Orbit is still dealing with some bureaucratic delays. Nonetheless, the use of Space Cornwall is an achievement for the UK and Europe as they plan more space missions from the continent.

Late last year, the Guardian wrote about planned space missions from the UK. The article, “The Great British Race to Space,” highlights plans for rocket launches from England, Wales, and Scotland. For instance, B2Space in Wales has plans to launch rockets from a helium balloon floating 20 miles up. The balloon could save about 70 percent of fuel and other costs related to a typical satellite launch.

It seems reusable rockets are just one of many innovations for lowering the cost of satellite launches. Watch out, SpaceX.

Image (Credit): A test flight for the B2Space balloon. Picture: (B2Space)