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Britain ready for first space launch

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit Holdings Inc. has been granted a license to launch satellites from the UK, paving the way for the first ever space mission from European soil early in the new year.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority gave Virgin Orbit permission to operate from Spaceport Cornwall in southwest England after an official sign-off from Transport Secretary Mark Harper, according to a statement from the regulator on Wednesday.

Virgin’s re-purposed Boeing Co. 747 will take off from the former Royal Air Force base near Newquay carrying a rocket under its wing which will then blast away at high altitude to deploy satellites into orbit. The CAA, which took over UK space regulation after the country’s split from the European Union, issued a separate license to Spaceport Cornwall in November.

Britain aims to establish a network of space hubs able to undertake a variety of missions, including traditional vertical launches from two sites in Scotland, amid rapid growth in the planned deployment of communications satellites. Bloomberg

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