Virgin Orbit’s upcycled Boeing 747 that serves as its reusable launch pad and mobile mission control center landed at Newquay Airport in Cornwall, England, Oct. 11, following its flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port.
The carrier aircraft, known as Cosmic Girl, touched down with RAFSpace Command Sqdn. Ldr. Matthew “Stanny” Stannard, who will pilot the craft during Virgin Orbit’s upcoming Start Me Up mission.
The launch for the Start Me Up mission is scheduled for November.
Start Me Up is led by a joint mission between the U.S. and UK governments, launched by Virgin Orbit, the United Kingdom Space Agency, UK Space Command, and Spaceport Cornwall.
“What an incredible honor it is for us to be part of something as monumental as bringing Britain into the business of launch,” said Dan Hart Virgin Orbit CEO. “Working with our partners across the UK government, we’re starting up a new capability that will serve the people, the economy, and the security of the UK.”
Start Me Up will be a launch of many firsts: the first orbital launch ever from the United Kingdom; the first international launch for Virgin Orbit, and the first commercial launch from Western Europe.
“As we move ever closer to the first satellite launch from UK soil, it’s excellent to see the progress being made by Virgin Orbit, Spaceport Cornwall and those across government in delivering this historic mission, the first of its kind in Europe,” said Nusrat Ghani, U.K. minister of science.