The Best Laid Plans: Europe’s Ambitious Launch Year Goes Awry Due to International Tensions, Schedule Delays

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET on 25 December 2021 on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Christmas Day 2021, an European Ariane 5 rocket roared off its launch pad in French Guiana with the most expensive payload the booster had ever carried, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope. The launcher performed perfectly, sending the most powerful space telescope on a journey to its final destination 1.5 million km (900 million miles) from Earth. The launch was so accurate that Webb should have sufficient propellant to perform science operations for much longer than its planned 10-year lifetime.

There was a collective sigh of relief among the European, American and Canadian scientists and engineers involved in the long-delayed program. It was a superb Christmas gift to a world suffering through the second year of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

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Venture Orbital Systems Closes on 10 Million Euros Series A Funding Round

Our company has shown steady progress toward the development of our orbital launcher over the past few months. To further our momentum, we have recently closed a major agreement in funding. Get to know the details in the video above with Stanislas Maximin, CEO.

REIMS, France (Venture Orbital Systems PR) — Our company has shown steady progress toward the development of our orbital launcher over the past few months. To further our momentum, we have recently closed a major agreement in funding. Get to know the details in the video above with Stanislas Maximin, CEO.

Since moving in our first micro-launcher factory in Reims back in October 2021, our team at VOS has been achieving a lot toward the first flight of Zephyr.  

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Astra Space Signs Agreement to Launch from SaxaVord UK Spaceport

Rocket 3.3 lifts off from Kodiak Island on March 15, 2022. (Credit: Astra Space/NASASpaceflight.com webcast)

ALAMEDA, Calif., May 10, 2022 (Astra Space PR) — Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) and SaxaVord UK Spaceport today announced that they are partnering to increase access to space, by providing dedicated orbital launch services to a growing satellite market. Subject to the entry of definitive agreements and regulatory approvals, rocket launches are expected to begin in 2023.

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SaxaVord UK Spaceport and Met Office Reach Forecasting Agreement

Future launch site (Credit: SaxaVord UK Spaceport)

GRANTOWN ON SPREY, Scotland (SaxaVord UK Spaceport PR) — SaxaVord UK Spaceport is to install a weather station with the support of the Met Office, to help with forecasting for rocket launches.

The Met Office will advise on the most appropriate equipment and best location on the Lamba Ness peninsula where launches are to take place.

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SaxaVord Spaceport Agrees on Deal with French Rocket Developer VOS

Zephyr rocket launch (Credit: Venture Orbital Systems)

GRANTOWN ON SPREY, Scotland (SaxaVord UK Spaceport PR) — SaxaVord UK Spaceport has broadened its reach into the European launch market, agreeing a deal with French small launch rocket developer Venture Orbital Systems. 

Saxa and VOS have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and intend to develop plans for first launch in 2024. 

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Work Set to Begin on UK’s First Vertical Launch Spaceport in Shetland

A rocket launches from Lamba Ness peninsula in Unst. (Credit: Shetland Flyer Aerial Media)

GRANTOWN ON SPREY, Scotland (SaxaVord UK Spaceport PR) — Construction of the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport is scheduled to begin in late March after it received planning approval from its local authority, Shetland Islands Council.  

The approval provides Scottish Ministers with a 28-day window to review the application by SaxaVord UK Spaceport. Should Scottish Ministers choose not to call the application in for review, or call it in and agree that the project should proceed, construction of the £43m [USD $57.3 million] spaceport can begin.  

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All Systems Are Go: Lockheed Martin Welcomes Approval From Shetland Islands Council For SaxaVord Spaceport Construction

Launch from Shetland (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin UK welcomes the approval from Shetland Islands Council to build the SaxaVord spaceport that will allow the company to deliver the UK’s first ever vertical space launch.

Harwell, Oxford, UK, February 28, 2022 (Lockheed Martin PR) – Lockheed Martin UK welcomes the approval from Shetland Islands Council to build the SaxaVord spaceport that will allow the company to deliver the UK’s first ever vertical space launch.

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