The first ever satellite launch from UK soil that took off from Spaceport Cornwall failed after a rocket fuel filter had become dislodged.

An investigation into the Virgin Orbit mission states the data gathered so far indicates the anomaly led to a premature shutdown of the rocket and failure to reach orbit on January 9.

Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit, said: “In space launch, a failure is painful for all involved. 

“Intense disappointment gets quickly channelled into the motivation to dig into the cause, to understand all contributing elements and to thereby get back to flight with a better system and a wiser team. 

“Our investigation is not yet complete; the team is hard at work and we’ll pursue the cause and contributors to wherever the system analysis takes us.

“However, with many clear clues from extensive data assessment now understood, we are modifying our next rocket with a more robust filter and we are looking broadly to assure that all credible contributors to mission failure are rooted out and addressed. 

“With those modifications being incorporated on our factory floor, we will proceed cautiously toward the launch of our next rocket, which is well into the integration and test process.” 

The investigation has confirmed that the Virgin Orbit team successfully executed pre-flight preparations, carrier aircraft takeoff, captive carry flight, and rocket release.

The ignition, first stage flight, stage separation, second stage ignition, and fairing deployment of the LauncherOne rocket were nominal. Each of these milestones constituted a first-of-its-kind achievement for any orbital launch attempt from western Europe.

LauncherOne performed successfully on all four prior operational flights, accurately delivering 33 payloads to their required orbits.

The data is indicating that from the beginning of the second stage first burn, a fuel filter within the fuel feedline had been dislodged from its normal position. 

Additional data shows that the fuel pump that is downstream of the filter operated at a degraded efficiency level, resulting in the Newton 4 engine being starved for fuel.

Performing in this anomalous manner resulted in the engine operating at a significantly higher than rated engine temperature.

Components downstream and in the vicinity of the abnormally hot engine eventually malfunctioned, causing the second stage thrust to terminate prematurely.

The early thrust termination ended the mission, and the second stage and its payloads fell back to Earth, landing in the approved safety corridor in the Atlantic Ocean.

Conspiracy theories surrounding Cornwall's first space mission have come up with a new reason for its failure - the Cornish weather.

It was suggested that the Government had forced the launch to go ahead on date even though Cornwall Spaceport chiefs were worried about it, a theory which has been dismissed.