The first satellite launch from the UK will take place this summer from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin has announced today.

“Built by In-Space Missions Ltd, based in Hampshire, and designed with Airbus Defence and Space, Prometheus-2 is a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Defence and international partners, including the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Two shoebox-sized satellites, ‘Cubesats’, will provide a test platform for monitoring radio signals including GPS and sophisticated imaging. The Cubesats will each have separate equipment on-board to test novel concepts as a pathfinder in support of the Minerva constellation for future space-based intelligence and surveillance.”

Britain spending £1.4 billion on space defence

The technology on board the satellites will enable MoD to identify new techniques and algorithms for operating satellites and data processing.

Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said:

“Space technology is crucial for developing Defence capabilities and the launch of Prometheus-2 represents another important step forward for our homegrown space programme. This collaboration with In-Space Missions and Airbus paves the way for the UK to become a more resilient, more robust and more significant global space entity.”

NRO Director Dr. Chris Scolose said:

“We are thrilled to be part of another trailblazing endeavour with the first-ever launch of a commercial rocket from Western Europe. It’s an honour to join the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence in announcing this historic enterprise. We look forward to this remarkable achievement as the foundation of an even stronger collaboration between our nations.”

Director Space at MOD, Air Vice Marshal Harv Smyth said:

“This is a great example of the power of international collaboration – a key tenet of our Defence Space Strategy. Prometheus 2 will deliver immense value to the UK MOD’s future space programme and, thanks to our partners in the National Reconnaissance Office, this highly-capable satellite will launch from UK soil this summer. I am hugely proud of what we have achieved together and this is just the beginning.”

You can read more here.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jason
Jason
4 days ago

But can’t the new Dr Who do this at a cheaper rate?

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
4 days ago
Reply to  Jason

“black ops” ?

Martin
Martin
4 days ago

Hopefully we can start seeing UK defence satellites launched form UK soil soon. Having a rapid deployment capability for tactical reconnaissance satellites from UK soil is a capability we should have.

Last edited 4 days ago by Martin
Sean
Sean
1 day ago
Reply to  Martin

I’m sure that’s why the RAF has had one of its pilots embedded with Virgin Orbit. Given this launch is from Cornwall it’s almost certainly using them.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
4 days ago

They talk of a ‘rocket’. Given that they are launching shoe boxed sized satellites are they using a conventional rocket or are they using Virgin Orbital vertical take off system?

Just had a look at the Cornwall Spaceport website and there are pictures of a small conventional rocket in Virgin Orbit colours, so I am guessing it will be a small conventional rocket.

I’m still looking forward to seeing the VTOL launch (Ok it’s just a jumbo carrying a space plane, even so…).

Cheers CR

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

From my understanding the two stage rocket is launched horizontally, fired from under the wing of a Boeing 747. The aircraft and rocket combination have already successfully launched a payload into space from the US. I haven’t seen what weights the rocket can carry, but looking at the size in the pictures it won’t be massive, so a number of cubesats is probably it.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Yes the previous successful launch took 10 cubesats to orbit.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
4 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Thanks Daveyb,

I had another look on line and found a picture of the rocket under the wing of a 747 launching cubesats. Cool pictures.

Cheers CR

Dern
Dern
2 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Cornwall Spaceport uses the Virgin LauncherOne system, which is flown to Altitude over the Channel or Irish Sea by a 747, then dropped and fired. It can launch about 300kg into SSO, or 500kg into LEO (probably less from the UK due to our high latitude). It is the *only* system that can launch from Cornwall at the moment, and given the density of population around Newquay and the flight path of anything aiming for LEO from a VTOL, it probably will only ever fly LauncherOne and similar Air-launched oribtal systems. For VTOL, classic rockets, the UK is currently building… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 days ago

Surprised this is being launched from Cornwall. Does anyone know what is launching these satellites I thought vertical launch was concentrated in Scotland while Spaceport Cornwall was to be the centre for horizontal launch. So is this going to be a ground launched rocket or is the term ‘rocket’ used because it will be launched via one presumes Virgin Orbit. Can’t find any confirmation as yet but one presumes the latter. Good news either way.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Just discovered on UK .Gov that it is indeed from Cosmic Girl.
‘The Cubesats will be carried on Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket’

Dern
Dern
2 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Yup, no conventional rockets to be launched from Spaceport Cornwall, (which is a grand name for Newquay Airport who are we kidding?).

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
4 days ago

just fyi (& I can hear the rumbles of discontent) BAe bought In-Space Missions in September 2021 …

Jon
Jon
4 days ago

Is this a UK space race? A few months ago, Shetland spaceport claimed it was going to be first. How exciting!

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
4 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Yes this is what initially confused me.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
4 days ago

Am I missing something? Who is providing the launch vehicle, Virgin Orbit? And whats happening with LockMart up there in Scotland?

geoff
geoff
4 days ago

A nice milestone although it should have happened more than 50 years ago. the UK shot itself in the foot many times in it’s Aerospace industry and I was really surprised at the time that the UK seemed to show no interest in joining France, the US and Soviets in launching an independent space industry. We should have found a way to hang on to British Guyana as the French did in their Guiana as an ideal place to launch rockets. One of many missed opportunities for Global Britain. Incidentally some of you may remember that the Seychellois under Mancham… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
20 hours ago
Reply to  geoff

I think the U.K. made the right call at the time. The money it would have cost to keep a space program running at the time black arrow was cancelled would of been tremendous. I can’t think what would of been cut to pay for it! The U.K. stayed developing important parts for satellites, could use American launchers when required etc etc. now we see the markets have caught up and space is only going to get cheaper. Main area of travel for U.K. should be smaller launchers and small satellites that can do great things. Imaging, communication,so instead of… Read more »

geoff
geoff
6 hours ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Thanks for info MS.

FieldLander
FieldLander
4 days ago

All identified here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LauncherOne
Undoubtedly a race by at least 3 parties to launch the first payload from UK soil.
Will it happen? There will be a lot of paperwork. Looks like more than a shoe box @ 500Kg to LEO.

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago
Reply to  FieldLander

This is the simplest and quickest option. The rocket and B747 have already been used previously. So it should be easy as lighting a candle, relatively!

Jon
Jon
3 days ago
Reply to  FieldLander

It looks like there are multiple payloads announced from Cornwall, and all announced separately: Amber-1, Kernow-1, Prometheus-2 and ForgeStar-0. But I think they are all going up on the same launch. Maybe that’s why they are all shoe boxes when the launcher has a 300kg capacity. I like Space Forge’s ForgeStar idea, to create a mini zero-g manufacturing plant in orbit which will return autonomously to Earth. I’d like to find out more about the re-entry tech, but their website isn’t very informative. Amazingly, there seem to be seven proposed UK spaceports, five in Scotland, one in Wales and one… Read more »

Dern
Dern
2 days ago
Reply to  FieldLander

Really none of the contenders are going to launch more than that.

JOHNT
JOHNT
3 days ago

I remember a BBC doc years ago about the aborted UK rocket program. One launch of Black Arrow and then we cancelled the program and the plans got sold off to the French who used it to help develop their Ariane rockets.

Sean
Sean
1 day ago
Reply to  JOHNT

We folded into a European programme that predated Ariane. The U.K. stage was the only one that successfully worked and was eventually scrapped.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_(rocket)

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago

Oooo, the NRO are involved, didn’t know that.

They’re as secretive as the NSA, maybe more so.

FieldLander
FieldLander
1 day ago
farouk
farouk
1 minute ago

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