The first ever orbital satellite launch from the UK is happening soon, and ahead of the launch, a full-size replica of the launch rocket will be on display outside the South Kensington museums for a couple of days.

The 72ft life-size replica rocket will be on display together with a range of free hands-on educational activities hosted by the UK Space Agency, Spaceport Cornwall, Virgin Orbit, the Science Museum, Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum.

LauncherOne undergoes a payload fit check exercise in Long Beach in February 2019. (c) Virgin Orbit/Greg Robinson.

In addition to the life-size rocket replica, visitors will have the chance to take part in a range of free-to-attend, hands-on educational activities throughout the weekend.

These will be hosted in a series of marquees which will be situated along Exhibition Road. For example, in the UK Space Agency marquee, visitors will have the opportunity to try on a real astronaut suit or touch a piece of real moon rock as well as learn more about the UK’s launch programme. Spaceport Cornwall will have VR headsets to experience what it’s like to be in Mission Control.

The Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Imperial College will also be hosting a range of educational activities.

The free events run over two days:

  • Saturday 15th October: 1pm to 6pm
  • Sunday 16th October: 11am to 4pm

You do not need to book tickets.

The rocket launch itself will take place from Spaceport Cornwall in southwest England. It will be what is known as a ‘horizontal launch’.

A specially modified Boeing 747 from Virgin Orbit, with a rocket attached under its wing, will take off from a runway. In flight, the LauncherOne rocket will launch from the wing, taking multiple small satellites into orbit.

The plane will then return to the Spaceport, able to launch more satellites in future.

Several of the satellites that will go into orbit have been built in the UK, including a research satellite from RHEA Group, which was built by Open Cosmos in Oxfordshire. The first Welsh satellite will also be on the launch, from Cardiff-based Space Forge. It will test the process of using the unique microgravity environment of space to manufacture special materials that are much more difficult to make on Earth.

The launch date will be announced soon.

Launch technicians prepare LauncherOne for Above the Clouds mission. (c) Virgin Orbit


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  1. Greg says:

    Oh! That’s fantastic. Thanks for bringing this type of stuff to our attention. I’ve seen so much great stuff I would absolutely have missed if not for your blog.

  2. Nick Roberts says:

    Why am I reminded of this ?

    I know, it’s Eric’s alternative script line which says “Not if its one of Uncle Vlad’s”

  3. HD says:

    Does anyone know if it’s necessary to book tickets? Can’t find anything on the science museum website…

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