Virgin Orbit is preparing its first Rocket Launch from the United Kingdom for Monday 9 January 2023.
A UK marine licence was issued on 24 October 2022 by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
Ireland issued a Marine Notice on 4 January 2023 which states that it has been advised that Virgin Orbit plans to establish a space launch hazard area off the South-West Coast of Ireland.
The proposed launch is on the 9 January 2023 and 10 January 2023 between the hours of 22:00 and 01:00, subject to weather and operational constraints.
The Straight Up launch will be the first from the United Kingdom, flying out of Spaceport Cornwall, Newquay.
The launch is believed to be a joint mission for the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
The original MMO License Project description stated . . .
Virgin Orbit (VO) propose to undertake launch operations initiated from Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay.
The launch system consists of a Boeing 747 aircraft carrying an air-launched two stage rocket under its wing. The carrier aircraft will travel to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet where the rocket will be released and its engine fired. It will then ascend to the desired orbit where the satellite payload will be released.
The trajectory will begin with the release of the rocket west of the UK and southwest of Ireland and will continue south-southwest over the Atlantic Ocean, where the rocket’s Stage 1 section and payload fairings will be jettisoned and deposited into Portuguese waters, and the satellite payloads will be released into orbit.
This licence covers the deposit of the Stage 1 rocket and fairings into Portuguese waters, in respect of one satellite launch