UK and the U.S. Join Forces for the CIRCE Mission Aboard Britain’s First Satellite Launch

The UK Space Agency revealed more details about the CIRCE mission that will be carried out through the upcoming launch from Spaceport Cornwall, the UK’s first satellite launch and the first of its kind from Western Europe territory.
CIRCE is a space weather satellite mission that will be launched from the UK for the first time 7 photos
Photo: UK Government
CIRCE Mission Logo PatchCIRCE Satellites RenderingCosmic Girl Launches Launcher One rocketCosmic Girl Launches Launcher One rocketCosmic Girl Launches Launcher One rocketCosmic Girl Launches Launcher One rocket
Defense science and technological activity in space has never been more important, whether it is in support of military operations or helping to combat climate change,” said Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, Commander of UK Space Command.

The CIRCE (Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction Cubesat Experiment) space weather experiment is innovative because it’s comprised of two almost-identical satellites that will operate in a lead-follow configuration at a short distance from each other. This is supposed to offer interesting new data related to ionospheric structures, which is important for GPS and communications with a multitude of applications.

These two satellites, no bigger than a cereal box, were developed through a collaboration between UK’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). University College London (UCL), University of Bath, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) developed the IRIS (In-situ and Remote Ionospheric Sensing) suite for Dstl, comprised of three payloads that will be complementary to the NRL sensors.

This space weather instrumentation suite will be one of the payloads aboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket that will conduct the first UK satellite launch. This historic event will take place this summer from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay. The Launcher One rocket will take off horizontally after being carried to the required altitude by Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747 jet.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has previously shared images from a satellite launch in California, where RAF pilots practiced flying Cosmic Girl – an exciting adventure in preparation for this unique launch.

Starting with this historical event, satellite developers in the UK will be able to take their products to space much easier, instead of having to ship them overseas for the launch, until now. This is expected to support Britain’s space industry development even further, with the UK aiming to soon become one of the global space leaders.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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