The UK is yet another step closer to becoming a space nation, with the Cornwall spaceport securing the country’s first-ever licence today.
Richard Branson’s rocket company Virgin Orbit will take the title as the first business to launch from British soil before the end of the year.
The company completed its full wet dress rehearsal on 2 October.
“Obtaining this license marks a point of distinction for Spaceport Cornwall, and is a key preparatory milestone for this first orbital launch from the UK,” Virgin Orbit chief executive Dan Hart said.
“We appreciate the efforts of the British regulatory agencies with the support of the US Federal Aviation Administration in this first-time licensing process, as we strive in our respective roles to ensure a safe and successful mission in the coming weeks.”
The license means the spaceport, based in Newquay, has met all safety, security and environmental markers, as well as hosting the infrastructure, equipment and services needed for horizontal space launches.
Ian Annett, deputy chief executive at the UK Space Agency, added: “The first ever spaceport licence granted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority is another major milestone as we look forward to the first satellite launch from UK soil this year.
“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.”