The converted Boeing 747 that will be used for the first-ever satellite launch from the UK has touched down at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

Cosmic Girl will carry seven payloads into lower Earth orbit from Cornwall via the LauncherOne rocket on the aptly named ‘Start Me Up’ mission; Virgin Orbit’s first international launch.

It will now take part in a series of dress rehearsals in the run up to launch day, which is anticipated to be in November.

Onboard Cosmic Girl was flight lieutenant Mathew Stannard, who will pilot the inaugural mission from Spaceport Cornwall.

He said: “It feels amazing to bring Cosmic Girl home to the UK. We are weeks away now from the first UK launch at Spaceport Cornwall so it’s all very real, I’m really excited to be here with the Virgin Orbit team.”

Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, welcomed Cosmic Girl to Spaceport Cornwall. She commented: “This is the moment we have been waiting eight years for and my team could not be more excited to welcome Cosmic Girl to the UK.

“A converted 747 using a converted airport to get to space is a perfect example of what we are working to achieve at Spaceport Cornwall. By making use of existing assets we want to set the bar for responsible launch – Starting Up launch in the UK with ‘Space For Good’ at its core.”

Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “We’ve backed Spaceport Cornwall from the beginning, promoting Newquay as an ideal location and investing £2 million in new facilities. The arrival of Cosmic Girl marks an historic chapter for Cornwall’s space ambitions and we look forward to seeing the first satellites launched from UK soil.”