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72-foot space rocket coming to Kensington next week

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is preparing to make history on Sunday with the first orbital test flight of its LauncherOne vehicle. (PA Media)
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is preparing to make history on Sunday with the first orbital test flight of its LauncherOne vehicle. (PA Media)

The first ever orbital satellite launch from the UK is happening soon, and ahead of the launch, a full-scale replica of the rocket will be on display outside South Kensington museums.

The 72-foot life-size replica of a rocket will be on display, together with a range of free hands-on educational activities, that will be hosted by the UK Space Agency, Spaceport Cornwall, Virgin Orbit, the Science Museum, Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum.

In addition to these life-size rocket replicas, visitors will be given the chance to take part in a range of free-to-attend educational events, that will go on throughout the weekend.

These will be hosted in a series of marquees, which will be situated along Exhibition Road. For example, in the UK space marquee, visitors will be given the opportunity to try on real astronaut suits, or touch pieces of real moon rock, as well as learn about the UK’s launch programme.

Spaceport Cornwall will have VR headsets, in order to experience what it’s like to be in Mission Control.

The Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Imperial College will also be hosting a range of educational activities.

The free events will run over two days, on Saturday, October 15, from 1 pm to 6 pm, and on Sunday, October 16, from 11 am to 4 pm.

The rocket launch itself will be taking place from Spaceport Cornwall in Southwest England, and it will be what’s known as a “horizontal launch”.

A specially modified Boeing 747 with a rocket attached under its wing will take off from a runway, and, in flight, the LauncherOne rocket will launch from the wing taking multiple small satellites into orbit.

The plane will then return to the Spaceport, where it will be able to launch more satellites, several of which were built in the UK, with the first Welsh satellite also being on the launch.

The date will be confirmed soon.