Virgin Orbit awarded licences for UK’s first space launch | Business News

Space launches are set to take place in the UK after Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit was granted licences to operate them.

The decision was described as a “milestone” by the space regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Virgin Orbit is planning a launch from Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay in the coming weeks.

A modified Boeing 747 will carry a rocket and release it in a designated location over the Atlantic Ocean.

The mission is named Start Me Up in tribute to rock band The Rolling Stones

Spaceport Cornwall is one of seven spaceports being developed across Britain.

The first vertical space launch is expected to take place next year from the planned SaxaVord Spaceport on Unst in Shetland.

A public consultation on the environmental effects of the spaceport was launched by the CAA last month.

The locations for four other proposed spaceports in Scotland are: the A’ Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland; Prestwick in South Ayrshire; Campbeltown in Argyll and Bute; and North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, poses for a photograph on board of his new cruise liner, the Scarlet Lady at Dover Port in Dover, Britain, February 21, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Another spaceport has been planned at Llanbedr, Gwynedd, in North Wales.

The government hopes commercial space launches will be worth £3.8bn to the UK economy over the next decade.

Read more:
Will the UK host its first rocket launch before Christmas? Everything you need to know

Virgin Orbit chief executive Dan Hart said: “Receiving Virgin Orbit’s range and launch licences takes us one step closer to the first satellite launch take-off from UK soil.

“This is a major milestone for the CAA and represents the successful completion of an enormous effort, which has included the construction of new regulations, new processes and new teams.”

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