UK rocket mission: An attempt to launch the first rocket into orbit from UK soil has ended in failure, with scientists reporting an "anomaly" as it neared its goal. A rocket carrying nine satellites detached from the Virgin Orbit Boeing 747 over the Atlantic Ocean but failed to reach orbit.
The modified jumbo jet carrying a Virgin Orbit rocket took off from southwestern England Monday, marking the first attempt to launch satellites into orbit from Western Europe, but it eventually failed.
Hundreds had gathered for the launch cheered as the repurposed Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 aircraft, named “Cosmic Girl,” took off from Cornwall late Monday.
Had it been successful, the mission would have marked the first international launch for Virgin Orbit, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson. The company, which is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, has already completed four similar launches from California.
In the past, satellites produced in the U.K. had to be sent to spaceports in other countries to make their journey into space. Some of the satellites are meant for U.K. defense monitoring, while others are for businesses such as those working in navigational technology. One Welsh company is looking to manufacture materials such as electronic components in space.
Ian Annett, deputy chief executive at the U.K. Space Agency said it was too early to say whether more missions are planned in coming months.
The mission is a collaboration between the U.K. Space Agency, the Royal Air Force, Virgin Orbit and Cornwall Council. The launch was originally planned for late last year, but it was postponed because of technical and regulatory issues.
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