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Virgin Orbit to Launch First Welsh Satellite in Spaceport Cornwall Mission This Summer

By Rachel Jewett | March 9, 2022

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart and Space Forge CEO Joshua Western and CTO Andrew Bacon sign a launch agreement in Long Beach, California Photo: Business Wire

Virgin Orbit will launch the first satellite developed in Wales on the launcher’s first mission out of Spaceport Cornwall in the United Kingdom this summer. Space Forge, which is based in Wales capital city of Cardiff, signed a launch agreement with Virgin Orbit this week. 

Space Forge is developing fully returnable satellites that are designed for manufacturing super materials in space. The company wants to take advantage of the space environment’s microgravity, vacuum, and temperature, to create products that cannot be manufactured on Earth. This inaugural mission will launch Space Forge’s ForgeStar-0 platform to test its future return from space technology.

“We’re thrilled to be making U.K. history with our first launch. We will demonstrate the use of space for good through in-space manufacturing and reliable return and it’s brilliant that both Virgin Orbit and Spaceport Cornwall share our ambitions. This is the start of a great collaboration and we are so excited to see where it goes,” said Joshua Western, CEO of Space Forge. 

Virgin Orbit is preparing to launch its LauncherOne rocket which utilizes a horizontal launch method from Spaceport Cornwall in the United Kingdom this summer. It will be a historic mission, opening the U.K.’s first domestic spaceport. Virgin Orbit previously announced that a SatRevolution nanosatellite supporting the government of Oman will also be a customer payload on the launch. 

“Space Forge is an innovative, fast-growing company and their agreement with Virgin Orbit demonstrates how all regions of the U.K. are playing a key role in our ambition to create a thriving small satellite launch market,” said Dr. Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency. “In-space manufacturing harnesses the benefits of the space environment to create materials far superior to those we can produce on Earth, which can be used to speed up electric car charging or improve the lifetime of aircraft engines.”