Tag Archives: UK space agency

Virgin Orbit gets $9.5 million from UK space agency

The space agency of the United Kingdom yesterday awarded $9.5 million to the smallsat rocket company Virgin Orbit

ccording to the statement, the funds will be used “to develop launch operations support systems and manufacture them in the U.K.” in addition to conducting “mission planning, and to further ready the facility for satellite launches from Cornwall”.

This award is part of a larger funding package of $26 million (£20 million) from Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, while Virgin Orbit have also said they will contribute about $3.2 million (£2.5 million) to the Spaceport Cornwall project. The hope is that Cornwall could become a hub for European launches to space in the future.

Essentially this is an effort by the UK to bring Virgin Orbit’s launches to Cornwall spaceport. Why Virgin Orbit has got this money is puzzling however. Launched from a 747 which can take off from almost all airports, Virgin Orbit doesn’t necessarily need to launch from a spaceport. That fact is probably why the company got this “pay-off”, using somewhat more blunt words.

Share

Great Britain space agency calls for an increased space effort

The competition heats up: The United Kingdom’s space agency has issued its proposed future strategy, focusing on a renewed involvement with ISS and the European Space Agency.

Following a public consultation and lengthy discussions across government, the new strategy, published today, concludes that continued involvement in the ISS and other programs via ESA membership is the best way to involve U.K. scientists and industry in human spaceflight. The document says the government will consider bilateral projects with other space agencies but fears always being the junior partner since the United Kingdom has no launchers or space stations. It does not think that the commercial launch industry is sufficiently mature for the United Kingdom to buy services commercially. The report also states: “The Agency will also consider its role in human exploration missions beyond Earth orbit, especially where this complements science and technology goals for robotic exploration.”

I wonder if the newly elected conservative British government agrees with this strategy. It appears to me that it was researched and written prior to the election.

Share