Historic UK rocket mission ends in failure

A successful launch would have meant that Britain became the first country in Europe to launch satellites on home soil. The European Space Agency (ESA) currently needs to use a spaceport in French Guiana.

It would have allowed Britain to join an exclusive club of just 10 countries capable of putting rockets and satellites into orbit. 

Currently, only a handful of countries have the capability of launching into orbit from home turf: the US, Russia, India, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China and French Guiana for The European Space Agency.

It is the latest problem to beset the mission, which was hoping to launch last year, but has faced months of delays waiting to get a licence from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which had never dealt with a space launch until now.

Monday’s launch was Virgin Orbit’s sixth mission, with all previous launches taking place from the Mojave Desert in California, and there were concerns that the British weather may prove tricky to negotiate.

The failed mission is devastating for companies with satellites on board, many of which were small start ups.

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