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Rocket launches from UK ahead of planned spaceport opening

Written by on 26/08/2021

A commercial rocket has launched from the UK ahead of the planned opening of a spaceport.

Named ADA, the rocket blasted off from Benbecula Airport in the Western Isles on Thursday.

Spaceport 1 joined forces with East Anglian firm Gravitilab Aerospace Services to launch the flight test vehicle, named after Ada Lovelace, the 19th century English mathematician who is considered the world’s first computer programmer.

Handout photo of a rocket, named ADA, being prepared for launch from Benbecula Airport in the Western Isles ahead of the planned opening of a spaceport. Spaceport 1 joined forces with East Anglian firm Gravitilab Aerospace Services to launch the flight test vehicle, named after Ada Lovelace, the 19th century English mathematician who is considered the world's first computer programmer. Issue date: Thursday August 26, 2021.
Image: ADA being prepared for launch from Benbecula Airport in the Western Isles

Spaceport 1 is a consortium that plans to open a spaceport in the Western Isles at Scolpaig, North Uist in 2022, for commercial, sub-orbital space launches.

Mark Roberts, Spaceport 1 programme director, said: “This is a historic moment for Spaceport 1, the Outer Hebrides, Scotland and the UK.”

Gravitilab aims to make space more accessible by providing reliable and affordable microgravity research and testing services.

ADA is the company’s first rocket designed for this purpose.

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The UK’s Space Command, a joint effort comprised of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, will respond to growing threats.

Gravitilab Aerospace technical director, Rob Adlard, said: “Our work is offering microgravity as a research tool and testing service, which has not been offered commercially in the UK before.

“Everything from climate change science and driverless cars need assets in space.

“Our aim is to be part of this supply chain for small satellites that will transform the UK’s position in the world in the space sector.”

Last month, the Department of Transport (DfT) announced a framework of rules to regulate the space industry and said it has “a potential £4bn of market opportunities over the next decade”.

The new regulations mean space flights and satellite launches can now take place in the UK, with the first expected next year.

andout photo of a rocket, named ADA, blasting off from Benbecula Airport in the Western Isles ahead of the planned opening of a spaceport. Spaceport 1 joined forces with East Anglian firm Gravitilab Aerospace Services to launch the flight test vehicle, named after Ada Lovelace, the 19th century English mathematician who is considered the world's first computer programmer. Picture date: Thursday August 26, 2021.
Image: ADA launched from Benbecula Airport ahead of the planned opening of a spaceport

Spaceport sites have been planned across the UK, including in Scotland and Cornwall, with the hope of cementing the country as Europe’s most attractive destination for commercial spaceflight activities.

It is hoped the industry will launch satellites to improve satnav systems and boost the monitoring of weather patterns and climate change.

Spaceport 1’s site at Scolpaig, North Uist is one of several proposed locations for licenced spaceports.

 Sky News

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