Virgin Orbit received licenses to launch satellites from aircraft

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has provided Virgin Orbit permission to launch a rocket from an aircraft. The mission is planned for January 2023.

Літак Cosmic Girl компанії Virgin Orbit
Cosmic Girl plane. Source: Virgin Orbit

Permission to launch a rocket

The Civil Aviation Authority of Great Britain (CAA) announced on December 21 that Virgin Orbit had been granted a license to launch rockets from the Cosmic Girl plane. Launches should take place from the Cornwall Spaceport, located in the southwest of the country.

Earlier, this organization had already announced the issuance of a license to the spaceport itself. So now there is nothing preventing the UK from becoming a place where satellites are launched on a regular basis. The exact date of the first launch has not yet been announced, but it will probably happen in January 2023.

The mission will be called Start Me Up. It envisages putting seven satellites into orbit for commercial and government customers. The company’s clients include the UK Ministry of Defense, the US Naval Research Laboratory and the Government of Oman.

The future of Virgin Orbit

According to Virgin Orbit’s executive director Dan Hart, the permits obtained are the result of a great work carried out by the company’s specialists. However, the company’s financial performance casts doubt on the actual situation.

The fact is that the company was going to make the first launch from the territory of Great Britain in December, and publish its financial report after that. However, it later announced that it was postponing this launch for a few weeks. Although the lack of a license was initially cited as the main reason, Virgin Orbit later admitted that there were also certain technical difficulties.

In addition, instead of the six launches that the company was supposed to carry out from the territory of the United States, only two took place. Nor can it be said that CAA somehow delayed licensing for a particularly long time. Even at the beginning of this process, the administration stated that the procedure would last from 9 to 18 months. They managed in 15.

It is quite possible that permission to launch from the territory of Great Britain will be able to improve the condition of the company. So far, it can only boast of attracting new investments in the amount of 20 million dollars.

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