Since a regular airplane doesn’t need a launchpad but merely a runway, partnering with airports across the world is the sensible thing to do.
Last week, Virgin Galactic announced it will be launching manned missions to the edges of space from the Taranto-Grottaglie Airport in Italy. Now, a second such site has been added to the launch roster.
As per Virgin Orbit, the newwest of the gazzilion companies owned by Branson and the one set up to earn money by placing satellites into orbit, will be partnering with the Cornwall Airport Newquay in South West England to begin operations as soon as 2021.
It is then when the company plans to conduct the first British satellite launch of the past 50 years. Virgin will be using a modified Boeing 747-400 aircraft called Cosmic Girl as a launch platform.
The plane is to take off from Cornwall, head over the Atlantic and release the LauncherOne rocket at around 35,000 feet for onward flight into space.
“Cornwall can deliver new launch capabilities for the UK quickly and efficiently by upgrading Cornwall Airport Newquay to support our horizontal air-launch platform,” said in a statement Patrick McCall, Virgin Orbit chairman.
“The Cornwall partnership allows us to grasp important market share, gain instant global launch market credibility and, with the technology already being tested in the US, further lower our risk.”
The Cornwall announcement comes on the heels of the Brits revealing the creation of the country’s first spaceport in northern Scotland. The complex will be built by Highlands and Islands Enterprise for an estimated £2.5 million ($3.3 million).