MARINERS IN Kerry and Cork have been warned by the Department of Transport about the possibility of debris falling from the sky tonight off the south-west coast of Ireland.
The warning is in connection with a mid-air launch of a satellite-carrying rocket from Virgin Orbit and is in effect from 10pm to 1am.
The rocket will be fired into the sky from a 747 jet around midnight from the UK's Spaceport Cornwall, and will head in a southerly direction.
The warning from the department says:
"The Department of Transport has been advised that Virgin Orbit plans to establish a space launch hazard area off the South-West Coast of Ireland on January 9 2023 and January 10 2023 between the hours of 22:00 and 01:00.
"Virgin Orbit LLC will be conducting a satellite launch attempt originating from the UK’s Spaceport Cornwall. The rocket launch vehicle will be deployed by air over water near the Southern Coast of Ireland.
"Where the launch attempt proceeds as planned, no debris will enter the marine hazard area set out in the co-ordinates below and the map at Appendix 1. However, there is a low probability for the vehicle to produce dangerous debris if a mishap were to occur.
"Virgin Orbit will be taking every step possible to monitor the area during the launch attempt. Mariners are advised to report any debris or pollution sightings as a result of any mishap due to launch."
In a press release, Virgin Orbit said the mission will carry satellites from seven customers to space, including commercial and government payloads from several nations an a collaborative US-UK mission.
Ian Annett, Deputy CEO at the UK Space Agency, said:
“We are entering a new era for space in the UK with the first ever satellite launch from UK soil and from Europe. This is a significant landmark for the nation, the UK Space Agency and for all those who have worked so hard over many years to make our ambitions to create a commercial space launch capability a reality.
“The development of new orbital launch capabilities is already generating growth, catalysing investment and creating jobs in Cornwall and other communities across the United Kingdom. This will lead to new careers, improved productivity and inspire the next generation of space professionals, and this is just the beginning. I look forward to seeing more launches from other UK spaceports over the next year, putting us firmly on the map as Europe’s leading destination for commercial small satellite launch.”