With the Sutherland Space Port chosen for vertical launches to near-polar low Earth orbits, another UK airport was needed to act as a spaceport for horizontal, aircraft-carried launch vehicles for orbital and suborbital missions. The UK government has approved Newquay as that airport. Cornwall Council will supply £12 million and another circa £8 million will come from the UK Space Agency. The idea is that air-launched rockets will be carried hundreds of miles out to sea, so that they can safely make launches in an eastward direction to maximise the benefit of the Earth’s spin. Virgin Orbit is expected to be lead operator from the site, from 2020, using its LauncherOne rocket dropped from a former Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400.
In a separate piece of news, Virgin Orbit has been revealed to be suing OneWeb after it cancelled all but four of its 39 booked flights with the launch provider.
Space News reports that the original contract for the 39 flights was worth US$234 million and included options for a further 100 launches at the same rate of US$6 million per launch. OneWeb has been accused of not paying the correct US$70 million cancellation/contract termination fee with more than US$46.4 million still owed.