Virgin Orbit's "Cosmic Girl" aircraft parked up at Spaceport Cornwall

Virgin Orbit recieves launch licenses ahead of first UK launch

Virgin Orbit has recieved two crucial launch licenses ahead of it's inaugural UK launch, launching NET January 2023.

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Matthew B.

Matthew B.

Wed Dec 21 2022Written by Matthew B.

Virgin Orbit has received their launch operator and range licenses from the Civil Aviation Authority, completing a major milestone in the countdown to their inaugural United Kingdom launch expected to launch in January. The licenses were issued after the Transport Secretary Mark Harper provided consent, meaning he agrees with the decisions made by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Virgin Orbit were given the licenses having met requirements and demonstrating to the CAA that they have taken all steps to ensure possible failures and safety risks from launch activities are as low as they can possibly make them. They also reached other environmental and security requirements. The range control license allows the company to issue notices to keep people out of dangerous areas and helps them continue smoothly with the launch countdown.

What is the Start Me Up mission?

The Start Me Up mission is the name for Virgin Orbit's first United Kingdom launch. Expected to take off no earlier than January 2023, Virgin Orbit seems to have completed almost all steps towards launch. Seven payloads will be carried on this mission, which are a mix of government and private customer payloads. Virgin Orbit's approach to launching a rocket is a unique one; a modified 747 aircraft, called "Cosmic Girl", takes the LauncherOne rocket to around 35,000ft and drops the rocket from under the wing, over the Atlantic Ocean. The LauncherOne rocket will then ignite it's Newton-3 engine and climb into space. LauncherOne is an expendable, two stage vehicle using liquid rocket-kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen as propellants.