Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl returns to the US after failed space mission from Cornwall

  • Watch Cosmic Girl start its journey back to the United States

The Virgin Orbit plane carrying the first rocket to be launched from UK soil has left Cornwall and started its journey back to the United States after a failed space mission.

The Boeing 747 - dubbed 'Cosmic Girl' - is heading to Florida before reaching its final destination at Long Beach in California.

After taking off from Spaceport Cornwall on Monday (9 January) the Virgin Orbit plane flew to 35,000ft over the Atlantic Ocean, where it dropped the LauncherOne rocket from under its wing.

The rocket contained nine small satellites - but  an "anomaly" meant it failed to reach orbit.

Virgin Orbit has since said the mission failure was caused by a premature shutdown.

  • Watch: Cosmic Girl takes off from Newquay

Virgin Orbit's plane then flew back to Newquay, with both the crew and aircraft returning to Spaceport Cornwall safely.

Virgin Orbit and Spaceport Cornwall said they were 'gutted' at the failure of the satellite launch, but said it isn't the end for space exploration in Cornwall.

In a statement, 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."

UK officials will work with counterparts in the US to oversee an investigation into the failure of the rocket launch mission.

The Space Accident Investigation Authority (CAIS) said it will work alongside the Federal Aviation Administration to “ensure that any relevant safety lessons are learnt”.

The organisations will oversee Virgin Orbit’s investigation.

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