THE CAMPAIGN FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT (CND) and Drone Wars UK have declared their opposition to the UK’s attempted space launch which took place at Newquay Airport yesterday (9 January). following their protests last October, when dozens of local peace and environmental campaigners gathered at the airport at the opening of the launch window.

Unlike traditional vertical launches, the Launcher One rocket began its flight strapped to Virgin Orbit’s ‘Cosmic Girl’ aircraft, a converted Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.  Once the plane reached 36,000ft, the rocket was intended to separate and place its payload of nine satellites into low-earth orbit. However, Virgin Orbit reported this morning that the launcher had “suffered an anomaly” and aborted its mission, the rocket and satellites burning up in Earth’s atmosphere on re-entry.

Campaigners argue that rather than attempting military expansion into space, the UK should be upholding and abiding by 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.

CND General Secretary 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.”

Drone Wars Director Chris Cole said: “This launch initiates a new era of military space expansion by the UK with Britain wholeheartedly joining a space arms race which will inevitably lead to greater risk of instability and conflict. The MoD and close allies have openly said that they have determined space to be a war fighting domain.”

* Read the 1967 Outer Space Treaty here.

Sources: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Drone Wars UK