Last week, the UK Government announced the first space launches from British soil will go ahead this summer. The announcement was followed by impressive figures from the UK Space Agency. Employment is booming in the UK space sector, up to 50,000 across the country.
Revenues amounted to £16.5 billion in 2020 alone.
Constructed by In-Space Missions Ltd, based in Hampshire, and designed with Airbus, the new UK rocket Prometheus-2 is a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and international partners.
It will launch this summer from Spaceport Cornwall on board Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket.
Two shoebox-sized satellites, dubbed Cubesats, will provide a test platform for monitoring radio signals including GPS and sophisticated imaging.
This will pave the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with our Five Eyes allies.
The international collaboration includes the NRO, the agency that operates the US’ fleet of spy satellites.
The launch is unique as Virgin Orbit uses a modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft called Cosmic Girl to release the payloads into space.
It will allow the MoD to better understand how the UK, along with its allies, can work together to create a new system at a lower cost than could be achieved alone.
After Brexit, the UK launched the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) research programme to replace the EU’s Galileo.
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“The UK was a major funder and a significant provider of technical expertise.
“The original deadline for completion passed 15 years ago.
“The budget has rocketed to 17 times the original figure.
“The project has missed so many deadlines it’s impossible to say when it will be completed.
“So far it has been 28 years in the making and 15 years overdue from its first deadline.
“None of the launches have taken place from European soil.”