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Space

Irish airspace access to be briefly restricted during UK Virgin satellite launch

Virgin Orbit is planning to launch a satellite this month from Spaceport Cornwall, which is based at an airport in south-west England.

ACCESS TO IRISH airspace is set to be briefly restricted when a satellite is launched by the UK later this month.

Commercial operator Virgin Orbit is planning to launch a satellite this month from Spaceport Cornwall, which is based at an airport in south-west England.

The plan involves an adapted Boeing 747 taking off from the airport while carrying a small underwing rocket. The rocket will then be released and ascend to space.

The rocket’s release is due to take place in airspace at sea above Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone where the Irish Aviation Authority provides air traffic services.

Consequently, the IAA will be managing a two-hour restriction of access to airspace during the rocket’s release and the first phase of ignition.

A marine notice will also be issued regarding maritime safety and navigation.

At a Cabinet meeting today, ministers discussed the plan for the procedures that would apply during the launch, including a “non-legally binding draft Exchange of Notes, which in anticipation of the future development of the industry, sets out appropriate governance and policy frameworks related to such activity”.

The framework to govern space launch activities is being put in place for one year.

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