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Failed satellite launch ‘a small dent’ for UK space ambitions

The UK space industry is looking for positive results after the first orbital launch from Western Europe eended in failure.

The mission seemed to get off to a smooth start. Around 10pm GMT on Monday, the Boeing 747 transport Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket has successfully launched starts in the south west of England.

The fighter jet then climbed about 35,000 feet before releasing the missile over the Atlantic Ocean. But then disaster struck.

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“It looks like we have an anomaly preventing us from going into orbit. We are evaluating the information,” Virgin Orbit announced on Twitter.

The American company soon gave more details. The problem had arisen during the firing of LauncherOne’s second stage motor, while the missile was traveling at over 11,000 mph.

All nine satellites on board were lost. Among them was Amber-1, developed by the British Satellite Applications Catapult and Horizon Technologies for maritime tracking.

“We will come back stronger.

Paul Febrve, CTO at Satellite Applications Catapult, said the failure was a major setback for all involved, but a “small dent” for Britain’s space strategy.

“It’s a blow, but it’s not a crippling blow,” Febrve told TNW. “We will learn from it, come back stronger and improve the opportunities we have in the UK.”

That ability has solid foundations. As a northern latitude island, Britain has favorable geography for launching satellites in polar and sun-synchronous orbits, passing over the north and south poles.

There are several compelling reasons to exploit these strengths. One is the growing demand for digital connectivity around the world, which cannot be met by using terrestrial infrastructure alone.