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Cornwall outlines vital role in new UK space age

Cornwall’s ambitions to be at the centre of the UK’s commercial spaceflight industry will be highlighted at a major UK Space Agency conference in London tomorrow [21 Feb].

A delegation led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will be outlining why Cornwall is ideally placed to offer a complete launch solution to commercial space operators to put small satellites into orbit, and offer sub-orbital spaceplane flights for science and tourism.

Cornwall’s unique assets combine one of the UK’s longest runways and uncongested airspace at Cornwall Airport Newquay, with satellite operation, command and control and space vehicle tracking capabilities at Goonhilly Earth Station.

The intention is to bid for a share of a £10 million Government fund announced this month to secure Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay, offering low-cost access to space and new launch capability for the UK by 2020.

And meanwhile Goonhilly continues to invest in upgrading its operations, including deep space communications ability.

The Cornwall delegation will be speaking at an all-day UK Space Agency conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London called Launch UK: Igniting the UK’s new space age.

The event will bring together potential UK spaceports, spaceflight vehicle operators and the wider UK space manufacturing sector to discuss progress being made towards small-satellite launch and sub-orbital flights in the UK. 

It will include a keynote address from Science Minister Jo Johnson who will outline the Government’s ambitions for the UK to have a greater share of the commercial spaceflight market, worth an estimated £25 billion over the next 20 years.

Ministers have also confirmed that a Spaceflight Bill will be published later this year that will pave the way for the creation of UK spaceports, including rules and regulations for operators, such as safety and insurance measures.

LEP Chief Executive Sandra Rothwell, who will be updating the conference on Cornwall’s space ambitions, said: “Cornwall has unique, nationally significant assets at Newquay and Goonhilly that can play a critical role in making the UK’s new space age a reality.

“We want to harness the power of spacetech to drive more science, innovation and research not just in Cornwall but across the UK, creating highly skilled jobs and boosting our economy in line with the Government’s Industrial Strategy.”

Also addressing the conference is Ian Jones, Chairman of the South West Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence based at Goonhilly. This is one of five UK regional centres set up to promote links between universities and businesses to realise the potential of satellite data and applications.

Ian, who is also Chief Executive of Goonhilly Earth Station, said: “Spaceport is really about the high-tech jobs and the new commercial applications of space that can significantly boost the economy. This is Cornwall’s and the UK’s opportunity to participate in a £25 billion industry, and in a sector that’s increasingly important in our lives.

“We all use space-related data on a daily basis without even thinking about it. Spaceport will allow the UK to benefit more from being a provider of that data and those services rather than just a consumer. It’s essential that young people know that there are great career opportunities here and they will be the ones designing and developing new systems and space application businesses.”

Also attending the conference is Miles Carden, Aerohub Enterprise Zone Manager at Cornwall Airport Newquay. He said Enterprise Zone status at both the airport and Goonhilly provide a combination of tax breaks, capital allowances and relaxed planning conditions for inward investors.

Miles said: “We’re offering a complete and competitive launch solution for the commercial space industry and aim to make Spaceport Cornwall a business and research hub for future flight and satellite technologies.”

Proposals to establish UK spaceports must be submitted to the UK Space Agency by 15th April, 2017.

Page last updated: 15:57, 20th February 2017
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