UK space launch: Historic rocket mission ends in failure, scientists report ‘anomaly’ | World news

The first rocket launch from UK soil failed on Tuesday due to an “anomaly” that was detected as the rocket approached its target, according to scientists. The 70-foot (21-metre) rocket was launched by a Virgin Orbit Boeing 747 from a spaceport in Cornwall, southwest England, at 2202 GMT. The rocket then separated from the airplane and was expected to burn at a height of 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean south of Ireland at roughly 2315 GMT. But in a series of tweets as the rocket was due to enter orbit and discharge its nine satellites, Virgin Orbit said: “We appear to have an anomaly that has prevented us from reaching orbit. We are evaluating the information.

“As we find out more, we’re removing our previous tweet about reaching orbit. We’ll share more info when we can.”The plane returned to Cornwall Airport Newquay as anticipated, to a sombre Spaceport Cornwall, a consortium that comprises Virgin Orbit and the UK Space Agency.

The launch was the first from the United Kingdom. Previously, UK-made satellites had to be launched into orbit via foreign spaceports. If the project had been successful, the United Kingdom would have been one of just nine countries capable of launching spacecraft into Earth’s orbit. “Joining that really exclusive club of launch nations is so important because it gives us our own access to space… that we’ve never had before here in the UK,” Spaceport Cornwall chief Melissa Thorpe told BBC television before the launch.

Hundreds of people attended the launch, which was dubbed “Start Me Up” after a Rolling Stones song. The satellites were to provide a variety of civil and military duties, including sea monitoring to assist governments in detecting people smugglers and space weather observation. Because of the commercialization of space, the number of space bases in Europe has increased in recent years.

Satellites were previously employed largely for institutional missions by national space agencies, but the majority of Europe’s spaceport projects are now private-sector efforts With the emergence of small start-ups, current technology that makes both rockets and satellites smaller, and the fast rising variety of satellite applications, the market has boomed However, campaigners criticized the launch. “Space is the new frontier for military escalation and spending with no real public scrutiny or accountability,” said Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) general secretary Kate Hudson. Drone Wars filmmaker Chris Cole decried a “space arms competition which will eventually lead to higher risk of instability and conflict”.

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