Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Drone Wars UK declared their opposition to today’s UK space launch from Newquay Airport 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 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 two pairs of 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 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.”