Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl touches down in Cornwall for UK space launch

  • Watch the moment Cosmic Girl landed at Newquay Airport

The aircraft which will be used for the UK's first-ever satellite launch has touched down at Newquay Airport.

Just before 6.30pm on Tuesday 11 October, cheering crowds greeted the arrival of Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl.

In early November, the aircraft will take off from Spaceport Cornwall with the LauncherOne rocket onboard.

Once she is at 35,000ft, the rocket will be deployed mid-air and propel seven satellites into the earth's low orbit.

Staff from Spaceport Cornwall were visibly overcome with emotion as they saw the arrival of Cosmic Girl, which had flown over from its home in the US.

It had taken off from Fort Lauderdale in Florida and landed in Newquay seven hours later.

The pilot of the modified Boeing 747 was flight lieutenant Matthew 'Stanny' Stannard. He said: "One, it feels nice to be home. Two, this has been a long time in the making and a lot of work.

"To actually have Cosmic Girl here now. It feels real. It's happening. We're not far from launch day and I'm so excited."

Flight lieutenant Matthew 'Stanny' Stannard flew Cosmic Girl from the US to Newquay. Credit: ITV West Country

Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: "I can't wait for everybody in Cornwall to come and see her, and to believe in what we're doing. I hope they feel that pride, that Cornwall is going to make history.

"We going to make sure that the satellites doing some really amazing things for our planet, and for our communities. I think it's amazing."

Among those witnessing the arrival was Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, who said it was a special moment: "It is an exciting day for me personally after eight years of championing the potential of Spaceport Cornwall.

"Just seeing Cosmic Girl arriving here is a very special moment. Now it really feels like it is going to happen."

Matt Archer, commercial space director at the UK Space Agency, said it was an important moment for Cornwall and the UK.

He said: “This is the end of what has been a very long journey and a lot of work that has gone on here at Spaceport Cornwall, the Space Agency and in the background in the Government including the Department for Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority and many others. It is a real triumph of what can be achieved.

“Whilst it is the end of this project there will be the first launch which is set to provide more opportunities for businesses across the UK. There has been major investment in the infrastructure here at Spaceport Cornwall and the development of the integrated satellite facility and the other facilities here."

The next step is for the LauncherOne rocket to arrive later this week. The first UK launch mission, dubbed 'Start Me Up', is scheduled for the start of November.