AFS Aviation - Virgin Orbit - Spaceport Cornwall

Company AFS Aviation Limited
Date 01.11.2022

AFS Aviation.

Virgin Orbit, Spaceport Cornwall. Cornwall Airport, Newquay.

Working closely with the Airport Operations at Cornwall Airport in Newquay,  the AFS Aviation team were welcomed to the Virgin Orbit, Spaceport Cornwall Operation early in October 2022 in readiness for the arrival of the aircraft from the United States Space Operation, Long Beach, California.

With the opening of the Space Systems Integration Facility in Cornwall this month, the modified 747 – 400 aircraft, rocket launch “Cosmic Girl”, arrived ahead of the C17 military aircraft carrying the Virgin Orbit Rocket, “LauncherOne”.

AFS Aviation provides specialised Cargo Handling Services for bespoke operations and having worked closely with the Cornwall Airport Operations for the G7 summit in June 2021, we were called upon to supply the specialised equipment along with a Ground Operations Team to offload the Spaceport Cargo brought in from the Space Operation in California.

  1. Cosmic Girl – Modified 747 Rocket Launcher (Picture 1.)
  2. “LauncherOne”. Virgin Orbit Rocket (Picture 2.)
  3. AFS (K Loader) – Ready to receive the LauncherOne Rocket from C17 Military Aircraft.( Picture 3.)
  4. AFS Aviation offloading Virgin Orbit Cargo at Cornwall Airport, Newquay ( Pictures 4 and 5.)

The aptly named Virgin Orbit’s “Start Me UP Mission” is on track for a November 2022 launch and is a joint mission between the U.S. and U.K. governments, launched by Virgin Orbit, the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA)UK Space Command, and Spaceport Cornwall. The very first space launch is happening in November 2022. Carrying government and industry satellite payloads marks the Start Me Up Mission as a historic moment for the United Kingdom.

AFS Aviation will be onsite at the Spaceport in Cornwall to provide all of the loading / offloading support for the duration of the up-and-coming mission and for the expected launch dates in the UK to be announced in the coming year. Please visit the Virgin Orbit Website for more exciting information.

AFS Aviation has seen demands for bespoke Ground Operations developing across the UK  throughout 2021 / 22 and so with the experience we have for coordinating ground operations at Airshows we have grown our fleet of GSE including specialised cargo loading / offloading  equipment to accommodate these growing demands.

We welcome the out of the ordinary operations and can accommodate the extra ordinary sizes and weight of freight for Cargo Loading / Offloading. With direct access to hauliers who can accommodate our specialised equipment we cover the whole of the UK and further afield.

Should you have a requirement for specialised aircraft loading equipment along with an experienced team please contact AFS Aviation today to discuss your requirements.


AFS Aviation Limited
Lasham Airfield
United Kingdom
GU34 5SP
  • +44 (0) 1256 381912
  • +44 (0) 7836 223189