Platinum Jubilee: UKSA to delight Queen with first launch from British soil to mark event

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The UK will honour the Queen on her Platinum Jubilee by having the country’s first space launch take place this summer. The Prometheus-2 satellite will be launched from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay sometime this summer, as part of a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and international partners, including the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Virgin Orbit, will carry two small ‘Cubesats’ satellites, that will provide a test platform for monitoring radio signals including GPS and sophisticated imaging.

The MoD believes that this will pave the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with the UK and its allies, including NATO.

This launch will be a delight to the Queen, who has always been interested in the space industry.

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, told “Her Majesty the Queen has witnessed the birth and growth of the UK space sector during her 70-year reign, so it’s wonderful that the Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated in the same year as the first satellite launch from British soil.

“The Queen has regularly demonstrated an interest in space, from meeting with Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon, in 1969, to celebrating British Science Week last year.

“I hope this will continue to inspire young people considering a future career in space and STEM.

“On behalf of everyone at the UK Space Agency, I would like to congratulate Her Majesty on this incredible milestone.”

Speaking to schoolchildren last year during British Science Week, Her Majesty recounted meeting the first man in space, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, soon after returning from his historic mission.

When asked about the encounter, she made everyone laugh by simply replying: “Russian”.

The Queen then added that Mr Gagarin did not speak English and said: “It was very interesting to meet him, and I suppose being the first one, it was particularly fascinating.”

Britain’s goal to launch rockets from its own soil has been in the making for over a decade.

The UK Space Agency was set up in 2010 and has been working towards that target ever since.

The agency gave financial support to Spaceport Cornwall, SaxaVord Spaceport (Shetland) and Space Hub Sutherland.

Each of the spaceports would be able to facilitate a wide range of customers, which include government agencies to academia.

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They would do so by using space data for activities like observing weather patterns and monitoring climate change.

Speaking of the upcoming launch from Cornwall, Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin said: “Space technology is crucial for developing Defence capabilities and the launch of Prometheus-2 represents another important step forward for our homegrown space programme.

“This collaboration with In-Space Missions and Airbus paves the way for the UK to become a more resilient, more robust and more significant global space entity.”

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