With the first space launch from UK soil due later this summer, the prospect of a new era would seem close at hand. 

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, having successfully completed its fourth satellite mission launch on July 1 from an American spaceport, now turns its attention to Newquay, where Spaceport Cornwall will see history made with the inaugural UK launch.

With Branson's Virgin Orbit eyeing up the fifth launch, the company remarked: "Following the success of this launch (fourth mission), the Virgin Orbit team is preparing for its first international launch later this year in collaboration with the United Kingdom Space Agency, the Royal Air Force, and Spaceport Cornwall".

Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall added that the spaceport was "on track" for the launch later this year.

As spaceports around the UK, including Spaceport Snowdonia, set to be based at Llanbedr in Gwynedd, wait for the Newquay launch, Wales has significant involvement in the first launch, with Virgin Orbit carrying a Welsh satellite, built by Welsh firm Space Forge, whose headquarters are in Cardiff. 

Virgin Orbit uses a modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft to release a rocket at high altitude, with the rocket named LauncherOne then delivering the satellite payload into low-Earth orbit. 

The Welsh satellite, named ForgeStar-0 will be launched by this method, a horizontal launch, the same launch-system proposed at Spaceport Snowdonia.