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UK’s Mission to Space Has Failed

Britain's first satellite launch ended in failure after the rocket failed to reach orbit.


American Virgin Orbit company operated the jumbo jet that carried the rocket from Newquay Cornwall in hopes to release it over the Atlantic Ocean.


The rocket successfully ignited and appeared to be ascending but success was short-lived as a message came from the company saying the rocket had suffered an “anomaly”.

As a result of this misfortune, the satellites were not released and have been recorded as lost.


The jumbo jet, ‘cosmic girl’, however, returned safely to base.


Although The rocket suffered an “anomaly” the mission has been deemed a major milestone for the Uk and marks the birth of a launch industry.


The ambition is to turn the UK into a global competitor in the ‘space wars’ by manufacturing satellites, building rockets, and creating new spaceports.


Predictions for the next 12 months include further launches and hopes for a successful launch to orbit, according to the deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency, Ian Annett.


He also said this shows the difficulty of getting a rocket to orbit but “we get up, we go back, we try again, that’s what defines us.”


Matt Archer, the agency's launch programme director, said the issue occurred in the upper segment of the rocket.


"The second-stage engine had a technical anomaly and didn't reach the required orbit," he explained.


"That's now part of an investigation by Virgin Orbit and a number of government departments," he told BBC News.


He could not confirm if the rocket had fallen back to earth but if it did it would have come down over unpopulated areas.


Dan Hart, the CEO of Virgin Orbit, said: "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.


"We will work tirelessly to understand the nature of the failure, make corrective actions, and return to orbit as soon as we have completed a full investigation and mission assurance process."


Head of the spaceport, Melissa Thrope said “It's been really emotional, we put so much into this, everybody has, so it is absolutely gutting. But it's space and the cliché is it's hard. We know it's hard."


The disappointment came as an anticlimactic end for both The UK Space Agency and Virgin Orbit, as well as the 2000 spectators and VIPs that gathered at Cornwall Newquay Airport to watch 747.


In a tweet, the UK science minister, George Freeman, made reference to the famous quote from 1960s US President John F Kennedy: "We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard."


Photo: Spaceport Cornwall


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