Home Technology UK regulator says it is not responsible for Virgin Orbit mission delay • businessroundups.org

UK regulator says it is not responsible for Virgin Orbit mission delay • businessroundups.org

by Ana Lopez
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Virgin Orbit is targeting a launch that would take place next week from Cornwall, England – and that would be the first spaceflight to depart from British soil – due to additional technical tasks and remaining regulatory hurdles.

In a statement, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said the company would retarget the launch for “the coming weeks”. In addition to the remaining technical work and excellent launch licenses, Hart said the limited two-day launch window also led Virgin to delay the mission. He did not discuss the technical work required for flight readiness.

Just a few hours after the announcement came out, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the launch licensing regulatory body, released its own statement to counter Virgin’s claim that remaining regulatory issues were partly the reason for the mission delay.

“The UK space regulation process is not an obstacle to a UK space launch,” said Tim Johnson, CAA’s director of space regulation. “Virgin Orbit said in its statement this morning that there are some technical issues that need to be resolved before launch. These are in no way related to when a license is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.”

Virgin Orbit was scheduled to launch from Spaceport Cornwall on December 14. LauncherOne, Virgin’s launch system, consists of a Boeing 747 and a rocket. The aircraft will take the rocket to high altitude before releasing it on its journey into space, so while this isn’t the first vertical launch from British soil, it will be the first spaceflight mission.

The news came as a surprise; as recently as Tuesday, Virgin representatives told the news media that the mission would be a “go” subject to regulatory approval.

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