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Richard Branson gives UK huge boost as Cornwall launches Virgin Orbit into space | United Kingdom | New UK News

The billionaire was propelled 53 miles to the edge of space last week aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane. Sir Richard returned unharmed to Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert just over an hour later, calling the trip the “experience of a lifetime.” But it is the United Kingdom that it has chosen as its “European hub” to send small satellites into low earth orbit (LEO) via its Virgin Orbit brand.

As Sir Richard’s ‘key delivery partner’, Spaceport Cornwall could welcome the first launches as early as 2022 – creating up to 350 jobs and adding up to 200 million pounds of gross value added (GVA) to the economy.

Stephen Eisele, Vice President of Business Development at Virgin Orbit, says utilizing and developing new business opportunities in Cornwall has always been a key part of the plan.

He told Cornwall Live: ‘It’s a big part of who we are here, it’s not about providing us with a launch service, it’s about providing a space ecosystem and providing sustainable access to space.

“We want to help develop new opportunities in Cornwall, which include launching but having satellites and downstream applications, software, application building, all of that – and a lot of that will come from data coming from the satellites. in the space. That’s exciting.

“The UK has an amazing space industry, you have so many factors in place, universities working there, work on STEM topics, manufacturing, it’s all there.

“The only thing you’re missing is the launch, we’ll do it, but we’re just one part of that bigger picture. When you have the launch, you will have full access to the space.

When Virgin Orbit first considered using Cornwall as a launch site, Mr Eisele said they were “pleasantly surprised by what we found”.

He explained that much of the supply chain needed for the spaceport was already there.

He said, “If we bring in the rocket and then find out that we need a component, we don’t want to have to wait to get it from the United States. But we’ve found a company here that can make these components – they weren’t doing it before, but they have the capacity to do it.

READ MORE: Virgin Galactic: UK can reap £ 2bn space market as Branson’s ‘European hub’

“There are many different examples like this – how we can use existing businesses and businesses that will help supply the space industry. They may not traditionally be considered space companies, but they can be with a few slight changes. “

Bosses at Cornwall colleges and universities have already worked with the spaceport to find ways to support the project as well.

Space ports have traditionally been used to launch spacecraft into orbit by blowing up huge, heavy vehicles over launch pads.

But Cornwall Airport offers a unique approach – allowing a modified Boeing 747 to fly 30,000 feet before the rocket is thrown in what’s called an aerial launch.

This can then deploy the payload – which plans to contain small satellites – into LEO.

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But Sir Richard is also reportedly considering the possibility of bringing space tourism to the UK.

Speaking to the i in February, he said: “Its location is working very well, allowing us to take off over the sea, and the support from Cornwall Council and Spaceport has been great.”

Work has already started on a £ 2million aviation center which will play a crucial role when future space missions take off from Spaceport Cornwall.

It will play a role in Spaceport Cornwall’s Space Technology Center (CST), a £ 5.8million development that includes a satellite integration and mission operations facility.

The Center for Space Technologies will integrate satellites into rockets and bring together UK satellite companies, universities and other space companies in one place to collaborate.

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This notice was published: 2021-07-14 19:44:00

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