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Spaceport Cornwall: Newquay set to be hub of UK space travel

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Satellite Applications Catapult will see its Amber-1 maritime tracking probe blasted into space by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket. The launch will take plan at Spaceport Cornwall’s site as part of the mission that will fly the flag for Britain’s space sector. Amber-1 is a partnership between Catapult and Horizon Technologies and it was built by AAC Clyde Space in Scotland

The satellite will be the first of a planned network of more than 20 Amber satellites.

The system will provide what is known as Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) data to users, which means the security of the maritime environment and maritime operations will be boosted.

It is also an exciting new beginning for the UK’s launch industry, with Virgin Orbit proud to be at the forefront.

The leading launch provider’s LauncherOne rocket uses state-of-the-art technology that will allow a horizontal launch to catapult small satellites into orbit.

And the summer launch will be their first-ever time using it in the UK.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said: “We are delighted to work with the Catapult and Horizon to launch Amber-1 on this planned historic flight, the first to bring domestic launch capability to the United Kingdom.

“We believe tracking shipping from space is vital to keeping the seas safe and that Amber-1 is a key technology that will aid this endeavour.

“This important technology and Virgin Orbit’s collaboration with the Catapult are the latest signs of the growth we are seeing across the UK space economy.

“This is galvanized by our planned capability to launch straight from the United Kingdom to orbit,”

Lucy Edge, COO of the Satellite Applications Catapult said: “This launch is a huge milestone for the space sector in the UK. This summer, the UK completes its end-to-end ecosystem enabling companies to design, build, launch and operate their spacecraft all from one place.

“The impact for the UK Space Economy is uncapped, and we look forward to supporting this vibrant sector in demonstrating major advances in agile access to space.”

Science Minister George Freeman has hailed the announcement as a “major milestone”.

He said: “British satellites have been saving lives at sea for decades by providing emergency communications and location services, so it is fitting that Virgin Orbit’s first mission from Space Cornwall later this year will launch a maritime intelligence satellite.

“This will be a major milestone for our £16 billion space and satellite sector and a great example of the government’s National Space Strategy in action.”

Spaceport Cornwall was chosen as one of eight potential sites for a spaceport to be built in Britain.

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It appears to be ahead in the race for hosting a launch as it was chosen as the location for two recently announced Virgin Orbit launches.

As well as the Amber-1, Virgin Orbit will also Space Forge to launch the first satellite developed in Wales into space later this summer.

Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall said: “This announcement is exactly why we are so excited to offer sovereign launch from Spaceport Cornwall.

“We are proud to know that our first launch this year, will be Amber-1, which will be integral to the UK’s maritime safety – benefitting not only the general public but the marine ecosystem.

“This is a larger scale representation of what we are trying to achieve through Kernow Sat-1, with the monitoring of ocean health around the coast of Cornwall. scienceThis mission encapsulates using space for good, by demonstrating how increased Earth Observation can aid humanity and our environment.”

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