'Newquay, we have an anomaly' - the moment the UK's first space launch failed

  • Watch the moment Virgin Orbit confirmed the mission had failed

Virgin Orbit and Spaceport Cornwall have said they are 'gutted' at the failure of the UK's first satellite launch - but that it's not the end for space exploration in Cornwall.

A modified Boeing 747 - dubbed 'Cosmic Girl' - took off from Newquay Airport shortly after 10pm on Monday (January 9) with a rocket carrying nine satellites strapped under its wing.

Around an hour after takeoff the rocket separated from the plane, before quickly gathering speed more than 22 times the speed of sound.

Previous test runs had indicated the mission would be successful. Credit: Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit live tweeted the mission and confirmed at 11:14pm that the rocket had successfully entered space.

However the success was short lived and half an hour later it was revealed on the mission's livestream that an 'anomaly' had prevented the rocket from reaching the correct orbit height.

Virgin Orbit's director of systems engineering, Chris Relf, said: "it appears that Launcher One has suffered an anomaly which will prevent us from making orbit for this mission.

"We are looking at the information and the data that we have gotten."

Shortly after midnight Cosmic Girl and the flight crew landed back at Newquay Airport.

In a statement released today, Virgin Orbit said: "Though the mission did not achieve its final orbit, by reaching space and achieving numerous significant first-time achievements, it represents an important step forward."

Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa Quinn.

Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa Thorpe said: "Everybody's safe, and that's all that matters at the moment.

"We'll continue to look at what went wrong, and we're just here to support Virgin, get another launch planned, and go again.

"It's space, it happens, we're learning that, and on site today we had many years of experience in the space industry here... and they've all come up to me and told me their stories of failure and how the next time you go is so much better that you thought it would be.

"To the south west, to Cornwall, thank you so much for all the support and for coming out tonight and for cheering us on."

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