PROTESTERS led by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Drone Wars will gather to oppose the first UK military space launch at Newquay Airport on Saturday 29 October (between noon and 2pm). The day marks the opening of a two-week window granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the launch to take place.
Unlike traditional vertical launches, the Launcher One rocket will begin its flight strapped to Virgin Orbit’s ‘Cosmic Girl’ aircraft, a converted Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. Once the plane reaches 36,000ft the rocket will separate and then ignite, with its engines firing it through the earth’s upper atmosphere till it reaches orbit.
The mission, led by RAF Squadron Leader Matthew Stannard, will place four specific military satellites in orbit as well as civil and dual use satellites.
Campaigners argue that rather than this military expansion into space, the UK should be upholding the principles of the Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967, which recognises that space is a ‘global commons’ to be used for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of all countries and humankind. The treaty was aimed at preventing national and commercial exploitation of space and the damage that would cause.
The General Secretary of CND, Kate Hudson, said: “Space is the new frontier for military escalation and spending with no real public scrutiny or accountability. Billions of pounds are being spent on this new arms race which could instead be invested in helping to solve the current cost of living crisis.”
Chris Cole, Director of Drone Wars, said: “This launch initiates a new era of British military space expansion which will inevitably lead to greater risk of instability and conflict. Rather than protecting space, the MoD now considers space to be a war fighting domain. This must be opposed.”
* Source: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament