First Space Mission On UK Soil Ends In Failure After Satellite Fails To Reach Orbit

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

10 Jan 2023

The UK’s first ever satellite mission has ended in failure.

Things looked to be going to plan with the aircraft successfully releasing the rocket carrying a payload of nine satellites off the south coast of Ireland.

However, the rocket failed to reach the required altitude due to an “anomaly”.

Hitching a ride on ‘Cosmic girl’, a converted Boeing 747 operated by Virgin Orbit, the LauncherOne satellite, is said to have had an issue occurring in the upper segment of the rocket.

Whilst the 747 made its way back to ground, the rocket and satellites were lost. The UK Space Agency insisted they posed no danger and were expected to burn or break up over the north Atlantic.

The crew of the failed mission vowed to bounce back.

Matt Archer, the agency’s launch programme director, said: “We don’t know what caused the anomaly but we achieved a launch,” he said. “A lot of positives have been achieved. Space is hard. We knew that this had a risk of failure. Launches don’t always work. We’ve created the conditions for launch here. We’ve shown we can do it and we’ll look to do it again.”