Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit secures licences ahead of first British satellite launch
Richard Branson’s rocket company Virgin Orbit has finally been issued its licences ahead of the first satellite launch from British soil.
The long-awaited launch is still expected to happen before the end of the year, although a new official date is yet to be announced.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted the licences within 15 months, well within the expected timescales for these types of licences.
Deputy chief executive of the UK Space Agency, Ian Annett, said: “With Virgin Orbit’s licences secured, we have achieved another key delivery milestone ahead of the first satellite launch from UK soil.
“Establishing orbital launch capabilities in the UK is already bringing investment and jobs into Cornwall and other communities across the UK and inspiring a new generation to join our growing space sector.”
The launch was previously scheduled to take off on the 14 December, but was delayed over technical issues.
Virgin Orbit chief executive Dan Hart said: “This is a major milestone for the CAA and represents the successful completion of an enormous effort, which has included the construction of new regulations, new processes and new teams.
“With our partners at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, Spaceport Cornwall, UK Space Agency and our payload customers, together we are progressing towards the first launch from Cornwall – keeping a strong focus on a safe and successful mission for all.”