Due to a “anomaly,” the UK’s maiden rocket launch was a failure. From Cornwall Airport in Newquay, satellites were scheduled to be launched into space overnight, marking the first time satellites had been launched into space from Europe. The Start Me Up mission, which took place on a refurbished Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 and utilized Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket, was named after The Rolling Stones’ 1981 single of the same name.
A Huge Event
More than 75,000 people watched the livestream in addition to the hundreds who had gathered to witness history. After taking off from the brand-new Spaceport Cornwall facility, the Virgin Orbit plane flew to a height of 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, where it launched a rocket carrying nine small satellites into space. The satellites were designed to monitor illegal fishing, trafficking, smuggling, terrorism, and other civil and defense-related activities.
Virgin Orbit said a “anomaly” had prevented the rocket from entering orbit, though. According to the business, this was the first of five LauncherOne missions that carried payloads for commercial enterprises and governmental organizations but were unable to successfully place those payloads in their precise target orbit.
“While we are very proud of the many things that we have successfully achieved as part of this mission, we are mindful that we failed to provide our customers with the launch service they deserve. The first-time nature of this mission added layers of complexity that our team professionally managed through; however, in the end a technical failure appears to have prevented us from delivering the final orbit.” said chief executive Dan Hart.
It was originally thought the launch could take place before Christmas, however because to technical and regulatory obstacles it had to be moved till 2023. After the mission’s failure, Spaceport Cornwall’s executive director, Melissa Thorpe, was saddened. According to Matt Archer of the UK Space Agency, the launch’s second stage experienced the anomaly, and the cause is being looked into.