Spaceport locals say billionaire Richard Branson’s rocket launch has strengthened farming communities and put the region on the map

Spectators watch the LauncherOne rocket launch from Cosmic Girl, a Boeing 747-400 in Newquay, UK, on ​​January 9, 2023, on a big screen at Cornwall's Newquay Airport.

Spectators watch Virgin’s LauncherOne rocket launch from Cosmic Girl at Cornwall’s Newquay Airport.Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

  • Natives of Cornwall said they needed billionaires like Richard Branson to launch rockets into the area.

  • They said the launch would inject money into the farming region and prevent the brain drain of the youth.

  • Virgin Orbit’s rocket crashed, but residents said the launch would put Cornwall on the map.

Residents around the spaceport, where Virgin Orbit tried to launch a rocket but failed, welcomed Richard Branson’s launch with open arms.

Despite torrential rains, strong winds and cold weather, nearly 2,500 spectators arrived at Spaceport Cornwall in the south of England to watch Virgin’s Cosmic Girl, a redesigned Boeing 747, fly a LauncherOne rocket into the night sky. However, the failure of the rocket caused by an “anomaly” did not demoralize the Cornish natives.

Insider attended the event in Cornwall and spoke to the people watching the rocket launch. The doors opened to the public around 2:00 pm ET from 7pm GMT when people started flocking with folding chairs, blankets and cameras.

People set up chairs on fences at Spaceport Cornwall

Kate Duffy / Insider

Sue and Paul Nuttall, who are looking to retire soon, told Insider that Virgin Orbit’s launch was essential to putting Cornwall, an agricultural region, on the map. Sue said there was a brain drain of young people in Cornwall, leaving the area “nothing” and the county can no longer rely solely on farming.

“We need big investors like Branson, big billionaires with private money and connections,” said Sue, who can see the spaceport runway from her backyard.

They said their eldest daughter had to leave Cornwall to pursue a career in the science industry, which Sue added was “heartbreaking” because “you don’t keep your skills in zip codes.”

Spectators watch the LauncherOne rocket launch from Cosmic Girl, a Boeing 747-400 in Newquay, UK, on ​​January 9, 2023, on a big screen at Cornwall's Newquay Airport.

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Other locals also echoed Nuttall’s comments.

Emma and her 10-year-old son Seth filled front row seats in the private viewing area across from Cosmic Girl and the spaceport hangar. They only took about 15 minutes to arrive at the spaceport, but Emma described the Virgin Orbit launch as a “once in a lifetime” event she wanted to bring Seth to.

Seth, who bought the International Space Station toy for Christmas, told Insider: “I tell all my friends I’m leaving today and they don’t believe me.”

Emma said she hopes hosting the launch of Virgin Orbit will keep space-interested kids like Seth in Cornwall.

Sign Cornwall Airport Newquay.

Kate Duffy / Insider

Josh French, an 18-year-old student who sets his camera about four rows back, said he decided to stay in Cornwall rather than move to London, 200 miles away, due to the increased opportunities offered in the county. space sector.

“It’s great to finally have something in your own home in Cornwall,” said French. “It brings people to a rather neglected place.”

Meanwhile, Joanna and Amy, two architecture students from Falmouth University, who gave their names only, thought the event felt like a mini-festival with a quiet disco, food trucks and loud music.

Joanna said that with the help of the spaceport and companies like Virgin Orbit, Cornwall could “make space its own” and “revive the economy”.

“I think Cornwall doesn’t have much anymore. It’s nice to have something other than farmers,” Amy said.

Virgin Orbit’s mission would be the United Kingdom’s first orbital space launch from UK soil. After the rocket malfunction was announced, an investigation was launched into what happened.

At a news conference on Sunday, Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, said she hoped residents would be proud of Cornwall “going to the stars”.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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