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Britain will take part in the space race with the first satellite launch from British soil

The satellites will be launched into orbit by a Virgin Orbit Launcher One rocket (Credits: Getty)

The satellites will be launched into orbit by a Virgin Orbit Launcher One rocket (Credits: Getty)

For the first time, satellites will be launched from British soil later this year as Britain enters the space race.

Okay, so we’re not exactly launching manned missions to Mars yet, but we’re sending two ‘cubesat’ satellites into space from Newquay in Cornwall.

These satellites – each the size of a shoebox – will be delivered in orbit from a Virgin Orbit Launcher One rocket that will take off horizontally from the underside of a modified Boeing 747.

747, known as ‘Cosmic Girl’, will take off from Spaceport Cornwall (Newquay airport) in ‘summer 2022’ according to the Department of Defense (MoD). Once the plane hits 35,000 feet above sea level, the rocket will loosen and ignite its thrusters five seconds later.

It will then deliver its payload, the two Prometheus-2 satellites, into orbit at a speed of 8,000 mph.

The satellites themselves are loaded with sophisticated image sensors that will allow the UK to observe satellites belonging to other countries.

They will also “provide a test platform for monitoring radio signals, including GPS and sophisticated imaging, and pave the way for a more collaborative and connected space communications system with our allies.”

NEWQUAY, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10: The Virgin Orbit Launcher One rocket launches at Newquay Airport on August 10, 2021 in Newquay, England.  Spaceport Cornwall aims to launch its first satellites in the spring of 2022. (Photo by Hugh R Hastings / Getty Images)

The satellites will be delivered to orbit at 8,000 mph by this rocket (Photo by Hugh R Hastings / Getty Images)

Although the UK has launched satellites before, we have never done so from the British Isles.

“We put the UK at the forefront of launching small satellites, delivering world-leading capacity to commercial customers and governments in a global market, opening up new opportunities and inspiring the current and next generation of UK space scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs,” said Ian Annett, Deputy CEO Director of the UK Space Agency.

“These satellites demonstrate the UK’s strengths in designing and building satellites. Being able to launch from the UK and across Europe for the first time will further boost our satellite industry, create highly skilled jobs across the country and deliver a key ambition in the national space strategy. . ‘

Once installed, the cube set will operate in low orbit around the earth, about 340 miles above the ground and 30-60 miles apart, and run about 17,000 mph.

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