Spaceport: Rocket carrying first Welsh satellite fails to launch into space

A rocket carrying the first ever Welsh satellite has failed to launch into space.

Several satellites were set to be sent into space by Virgin Orbit's, LauncherOne rocket, including one from Cardiff-based company Space Forge. It is hoping it's ForgeStar-0 will one day be able to make and retrieve materials that can't be made on earth.

However, an attempt to make British space history by launching the rocket into orbit from UK soil ended in failure after suffering what was described as an “anomaly” during the flight.

After Virgin Orbit's modified Boeing 747 took off from Cornwall, it flew to 35,000ft over the Atlantic Ocean where it dropped the rocket containing nine small satellites towards space.

But organisers of the Start Me Up mission said the rocket – with a variety of civil and defence applications – failed to reach orbit.

Virgin Orbit says it is evaluating the information after its LauncherOne was prevented from reaching orbit.

What happened when Boeing 747 took off?

A Boeing 747 carrying the first rocket to launch into space from UK soil took off from Spaceport Cornwall on Monday night (9 January).

Virgin Orbit's modified plane - dubbed Cosmic Girl - took off horizontally from the Newquay site with the LauncherOne rocket attached to its wing shortly after 10pm.

It then made its way across the Atlantic before releasing the rocket, with satellites on board, when it got just south of Ireland at around 11pm.

First ever UK space launch fails after rocket ‘anomaly’

The rocket then ignited and accelerated to 22x the speed of sound, soaring past the coasts of Spain and Portugal before leaving the Earth's atmosphere at 17,200mph.

But an "anomaly" on the rocket meant it failed to reach orbit.

In a tweet, Virgin Orbit said: "We appear to have an anomaly that has prevented us from reaching orbit. We are evaluating the information."

Matt Archer, Commercial Space Director at the UK Space Agency, told ITV News the first stage of the rocket was successful and "burned as it was expected" but the second stage had an "anomaly of some kind".

"We don't know what that is and again they'll be an investigation in the coming days to work out, but effectively it won't reach the altitude that it requires to deploy the satellites," he said.

"They will probably break up on re-entry but again that'll be worked through with the Virgin team, but again there's no risk to human life.

"At this stage, the mission was unsuccessful but we've proven that we can launch from Cornwall and again everything is in place to do another launch in the future."

If the mission had been a success, the satellites would have been the first ever to be launched into space from Europe.

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