Spaceport Cornwall officially open for business
Spaceport Cornwall is officially open for business. The site at Cornwall Newquay Airport was unveiled ahead of the first ever orbital UK launch expected to take place this autumn from Cornwall. It means satellite companies can now use the facilities to get their tech launch-ready and fitted onto Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket.
The newly unveiled Space Systems Integration Facility at Spaceport Cornwall is where the first six satellites will be brought together for the inaugural launch.
This facility forms part of the ‘Centre for Space Technologies’, a nationally unique asset where the value of launch from Cornwall will realise its full potential. The centre will comprise of two main facilities: the space systems integration facility, where satellites will be integrated into the fairing of the rocket, and the space systems operation facility, an adjacent research and development work and office space that will be completed in early 2023.
Bosses at Spaceport Cornwall said the new facility and wider infrastructure will serve as a “catalyst to attract businesses from across the UK space sector and internationally”.
Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: “The opening of the space systems integration facility is one of the final milestones towards reaching space from the UK. From breaking ground only 14 months ago to having a world-class space facility completed ahead of launch, the pace of delivery is an incredible achievement for my team and contractors that made it happen.
“Cornwall now has a home for launch, where satellite technology can innovate to help us solve some of today’s most complex problems on Earth. This is where the real value to Cornwall, and the UK, will come from and we will take a global lead in using space for good.”
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The first satellites to be integrated within the facility are world-leading payloads of technology, innovation and collaboration. The mission from Cornwall will see the first ever satellite launched by the Sultanate of Oman focused on Earth Observation; future-facing return satellite tech aboard Wales’ first satellite, built by Space Forge; a Maritime monitoring payload built by Horizon Technologies and the Satellite Applications Catapult; as well satellites from the MOD, DSTL and US National Reconnaissance Office.
Matt Archer, director of commercial spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, said: “This is another major step in the development of Spaceport Cornwall and a boost to the growing space cluster, ahead of (the) first launch later this year. Developing the UK’s launch capability is a key priority, not just to create commercial opportunities and increase our spaceflight expertise, but to generate diverse job opportunities across the country, which this excellent new facility will do in Cornwall.”
Cornwall Council said the £5.6m spaceport, which has been jointly-funded by the local authority, the European Regional Development Fund and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government’s ‘Getting Building’ Fund, could deliver 150 direct jobs and generate £200m to the local economy.
Linda Taylor, Council Leader, Cornwall Council, said: “We are thrilled that Cornwall is now home to this nationally unique asset. The Space Systems Integration facility will be a hub for innovation within our region and we look forward to welcoming new businesses that will continue to grow our economy and place Cornwall at the forefront of the UK space industry.”