Heads-Up To All Residents Of Great Britain:  Here Are Your Taxes At Work:

I’m a great fan of many things British.

And because I’m a fan, I can feel the Brits’ pain about a story from last week.

The story is about Great Britain’s failed spacecraft mission.

And the many British taxpayer dollars – or pounds and pence, in this case – going down in flames.

The image at the top is my interpretation of what this debacle may have looked like.

Failed spacecraft and spacecraft missions happen in the U.S. all the time, so I can empathize.

The failed mission happened January 9:

“The rocket was set to make history, carrying satellites on what would be the first-ever orbital launch from the U.K. on Monday night.  But Virgin Orbit says its LauncherOne rocket ‘experienced an anomaly’ just before it could deliver its payload, and the craft was lost.”

Let’s unpack this.

Virgin Orbit is owned by Richard Branson, a member of what I call the “Billionaire Boys Space Club”:

“LauncherOne” is a rocket that was affixed to the underside of a modified 747:

That modified 747 is named “Cosmic Girl”:

What asshole came up with that name?

Cosmic Girl and LauncherOne were launched from Spaceport Cornwall in western England:

The idea was that the LauncherOne rocket would separate from the 747.  The rocket would then take off into outer space, at some point separate from something else, then release its “payload,” in this case nine satellites:

LauncherOne did separate from the 747, but then experienced the aforementioned “anomaly”:

Meaning:  “We don’t bloody well know what the hell happened.”

After the failure anomaly, in a statement on the Virgin Orbit website, Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall said,

“Though the mission did not achieve its final orbit, by reaching space and achieving numerous significant first-time achievements, it represents an important step forward…and demonstrated that space launch is achievable from UK soil.”

Thorpe continued,

“Yes, space is hard, but we are only just getting started.”

You want to know what’s “hard”?

Getting my venti peppermint mocha Frappuccino Blended beverage correctly made at Starbucks is “hard.”

“Space” is just stupid.

And expensive.

How expensive for Britain’s taxpayers?

According to this article:

“Virgin Orbit usually charges around $12 million for a launch, although the fees can vary.”

Then there was the cost to build Spaceport Cornwall which, according to that same Melissa Thorpe in this pre-failure article:

“Thorpe, the CEO of Spaceport Cornwall, said it cost less than £20 million ($24 million) to convert the tiny Newquay airport into a space-ready site.”

What does “less than” mean? 

Maybe instead of £20 million it cost £19.9 million?

Then there was the cost of hosting all the media and others who wanted to watch the launch, including these folks:

This article…


“According to Cornwall Council’s procurement website, it…cost a grand old sum of £8,000 [$9,700] to put it all together.”

And since we’re doing the math, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the not one – but two U.S. satellites, paid for by U.S. taxpayers, that were onboard LauncherOne:

“From the US, the Navy Research Laboratory had delivered two Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction CubeSat Experiment (CIRCE) satellites to the UK.”

Try as I might, I couldn’t find a cost for a CIRCE satellite, but I did find an article that said this:

“If you have at least $290 million in your bank account, that money can go into making a satellite that can track and monitor hurricanes.  Add about $100 million dollars more if you want a satellite that carries a missile-warning device.”

So let’s guesstimate $350 million for each of the two CIRCE satellites.

Since we know that anything that comes out of NASA with a logo like this:

…is mega-expensive (as well as over budget, and past deadline).

In conclusion, here’s my message to the good people of Great Britain:

First:  Brits are known for their moderation, so why launch nine more satellites into space when, according to this article:

“2022 has witnessed the maximum number of orbital and sub-orbital launches…According to United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), 8,261 individual satellites are orbiting the Earth now, out of which 4,852 satellites are active.”

There are already more than 8,200 satellites out there.

Good people of Great Britain, did you really need to add nine more satellites to this chaos?

SecondEveryone does some things well.  But no one does everything well.

You Brits excel at many things, and here are three of my favorites:

Your royalty – a tradition that’s been in place for most of the past 1,000 years…

Your food with fun names…

And really old stuff?  You’ve got that all over the place:

So, good people of Britain, I urge you to pull the plug on your space program now and stick with the many things you do so well.

Just imagine if you did that. 

No more aircraft with embarrassing (and sexist) names like “Cosmic Girl.”

No more embarrassing space mission failures announced in every media outlet in the world…

No more embarrassing space mission failures costing you millions of pounds and pence.

As Eliza Doolittle sang in My Fair Lady

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