News

News

Wednesday
February, 8
More

    First British-based space launch of military satellites fails

    Featured in:

    LONDON — A British attempt to become the first Western European nation to put satellites into space from a base on home soil has failed after the Virgin Orbit launch rocket missed the required orbit.

    Virgin Orbit officials said Jan. 10 that a still-unexplained anomaly had occurred during the firing of the rocket’s second stage engine, ending the mission.

    The air-launched rocket, called LauncherOne, had earlier been dropped from under the wing of a modified Boeing 747 airliner that had taken off from the runway at Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, south-west England.

    READ MORE: Validation of India’s First Revolutionary AeroSpike Engine carried out

    The two-stage rocket had nine small satellites onboard, including several military and security payloads. One of the programs involves the U.S. Navy.

    Loss of the payloads will be a significant setback for the development of British small, cubesat capabilities – in which it is a world leader.

    Among the military payloads was the British government’s Prometheus 2 satellite, led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

    Two cereal-box sized Prometheus-2 spacecraft were planned to operate in low Earth orbit, providing a test platform for imaging and monitoring radio signals, including GPS.

    The two cubesats had separate equipment installed to test concepts in support of the British MoD’s ISTARI program for future space-based intelligence and surveillance.

    The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory also had a stake in the launch effort.

    The lab is collaborating with Dstl in the Circe program – a coordinated ionospheric reconstruction cubesat experiment meant to have been placed in orbit onboard LauncherOne.

    READ MORE: Happy to built satellites that can monitor Methane emissions : ISRO

    The collaborative space mission involves investigating the ionosphere, an important area of space impacting GPS, communications, and sensing technology.

    A third, defense-related security satellite program onboard the rocket, known as Amber 1 satellite, is designed for maritime intelligence gathering.

    The Virgin Orbit launch was meant to be the first of 20 or more such payloads to provide maritime domain awareness.

    Five previous missions by California-based Virgin Orbit had taken place from the Mojave Desert in California.

    The latest launch from the 747, known as Cosmic Girl, took place over the Atlantic some 50 miles off the coast of Ireland and was on track to become the first such deployment from a Western European nation.

    Matt Archer, director of commercial spaceflight at the U.K. Space Agency, said that despite the missions failure it had demonstrated Britain’s ability to launch satellites into orbit.

    “While this result is disappointing, launching a spacecraft always carries significant risks. Despite this, the project has succeeded in creating a horizontal launch capability at Spaceport Cornwall, and we remain committed to becoming the leading provider of commercial small satellite launch in Europe by 2030, with vertical launches planned from Scotland,” said Archer.

    Find us on

    Latest articles

    - Advertisement - spot_imgspot_img

    Related articles

    Su-75 ‘Checkmate’: Russia Could Invite India To Join The...

    Rostec, a Russian state-owned enterprise with operations in a wide range of industries, including military hardware, has expressed its intention to invite India to develop the Su-75 Checkmate fifth-generation fighter jet, reported state-run TASS. 

    Spy Balloon Or Venus? When US Navy Tried Shooting...

    US Navy divers are currently trying to recover the remains of the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

    Catching Up With F-35, Russia’s Su-57 Fighters To Get...

    Russian air force fighters are set to get ‘smarter’ with the introduction of what appears to be an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled data linking and sensor fusion system that connects a pair of jets in a networked operation.

    Taiwan Is Deploying ‘Cheap’ Minelayers & Their Mines With...

    Many in Taiwan and their supporters in the strategic community in the United States seem to favor applying one lesson learned from the ongoing war in Ukraine against China to thwart its aggressive designs on the island nation. That makes the Chinese invasion very difficult and expensive by mining its warships in the Taiwan Strait.

    Shooting Down 6 PLAAF Fighter Jets, Meet US’ ‘Revolutionary’...

    A US Air Force F-22 Raptor popped a Chinese “spy balloon” on February 4 using an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile, marking the first kill for the mighty Raptor. Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time the Sidewinder had destroyed a Chinese target.

    US Air Force Prepares For ‘Ultimate Clash’ With China’s...

    The US Air Force (USAF) has finally got its first fifth-generation aggressor pilot for the recently reactivated 65th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS) at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada.