I live in the UK (Cornwall specifically). I was recently told that the UK Space Agency (UKSA) was doing a project to launch rockets in Newquay. I did some more research and found that, according to the UKSA, Newquay will not be used for vertical launches. Instead, it will be used for the thing where they fly 747s with satellites attached to the wing. There will be vertical launch sites, but these will be in the north of England and in Scotland.

Now, to me, this seems counter-intuitive. In Tim Peake's book, Ask an Astronaut, he talks about how, because of the way orbital physics work, it is in the interest of space agencies to launch rockets as close to the equator as possible (this was a deciding factor in the choosing of Baikonor and Cape Canaveral for rocket launch sites). If this is so, wouldn't it be better if the UKSA set up a vertical launch pad in Newquay, rather that further north?

  • $\begingroup$ Aren't they targetting polar orbit with the vertical launch? I suspect nowhere in the UK is competitive for anything else. $\endgroup$ – Steve Linton Jun 30 '19 at 9:46

If you are trying for Geostationary orbit an equatorial launch site is better, but if you are stuck with launch from inside the UK but are not prepared to drop spent stages on voters then you can still do low altitude polar launches


As with so many things this is much more about politics than physics. So Israel launches retrograde https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavit.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.