Party atmosphere turns quiet after space launch goes wrong – but crowd remains proud | UK News

“Space is hard” – a mantra often repeated by Virgin Orbit and those in charge of Spaceport Cornwall in the last few months leading up to this mission – and last night proved that point.

As an American Virgin Orbit presenter announced something had gone wrong on the big screen at the airport, an electric party atmosphere in the crowd quickly turned quiet and subdued.

But despite the last-minute “anomaly”, the thousands slowly leaving the airport, deckchairs in arms, remained proud.

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‘Godspeed, Cosmic Girl!

“It was a little disappointing, but it’s been a great evening,” one lady told me.

“It’s a first for Cornwall, and we actually work at the airport, so it’s been fantastic for us to see our little airport being shown to the world.

“It’s been a big deal for Cornwall and a big deal for the airport, we’re a tiny little airport so to put us on the world map has been absolutely brilliant.

“It’s been a good night – and fingers crossed for take two!”

Her daughter said: “It’s been great, great to see so many turn out. It was good to see take-off so it’s been good. I don’t think we should be too disappointed. It’s nice to support Cornwall.”

About 2,000 had been lucky enough to secure a ticket to watch the launch – and the gathering in the chilly weather made for a festival vibe.

“It couldn’t be missed, could it?” Ben told me alongside his four sons. “Hugely proud – it’s amazing.”

Cosmic Girl was carrying Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket
Cosmic Girl, carrying Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket, takes off from Spaceport Cornwall

There’s no doubt Cornwall’s involvement in the UK’s first orbital space launch has inspired the next generation.

Ben’s son Gulliver wanted to come after recently meeting British astronaut Tim Peake in a space competition.

He said: “I met him at the Science Museum in London! It’s amazing – not a lot happens in Cornwall so having such a big thing is surprising!”

As Gulliver packed up his camping chair, Tim Peake tweeted: “So disappointing, but getting to space is hard and valuable lessons will be learned.”

Disappointment yes, but those following Cornwall’s journey to space have no intention of giving up.

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