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UPDATE: Cornwall Could Enter Space Race

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6:40am 16th July 2014
(Updated 6:40am 16th July 2014)

It could be one giant leap for Newquay.

It has been confirmed that the airport is on a shortlist of sites to build Britain's first spaceport on Tuesday.

It could mean the site is used for space tourism or to launch satellites but tickets for a trip 60km into space cost around £150,000.

It is understood officials think Newquay's location near the coast and giant runway could make it perfect.

It is the only site in England put forward, since the others are in Wales and Scotland.

There have been constant rumours linking Newquay with the space programme, dating back to when the runway was still part of RAF St Mawgan.

Last time they surfaced officials from the base told Pirate FM they had not held any talks about the proposal.

Now it sounds like that could have changed.

This is a mock-up of what it might look like:

Newquay Spaceport Conceptual image

Newquay Cornwall Airport has been shortlisted by the National Commercial Spaceflight Board to be the location of the UK's first ever Space Port. A cross-government team, including the UK Space Agency, Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport, believes there is significant demand and potential revenue streams from both satellite launches and space flight experience (space tourism).  

The Board, set up to oversee the delivery of a UK Space Port as part of the Government's ambition to grow the UK's share of the global space market, has shortlisted Newquay Cornwall Airport due to its runway length, coastal location, access to segregated airspace and weather, amongst other criteria. This nomination cements Newquay Cornwall Airport as one of the best aerospace locations in Europe, boasting an unparalleled aviation environment, with a genuine capability to service the space industry.

A Space Port is a facility for the operation of Sub-Orbital Space Planes, which are commercial civilian aircraft that may operate to deploy satellites of other space payloads, space flight experiences and scientific tasks. In addition to direct revenue from Space plane operators, there are likely to be significant opportunities from ancillary Space port services, such as maintenance, research, development, training and tourism.

Newquay Cornwall Airport is already home to Aerohub, England's only aerospace-focused Enterprise Zone which extends to 325 hectares and is the largest planning-free development site in the UK. It is located on the coast with uncongested and unrestricted airspace and one of the longest runways (2,744m) in the UK - all crucial criteria for a spaceport.

Chris Pomfret, chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "The Aerohub at Newquay Cornwall Airport is a unique and nationally important asset and we want to unlock further growth in the aerospace and space sectors to create skilled well-paid jobs in Cornwall. Satellite technology is also an important part of the future economic strategy for Cornwall.

"To be shortlisted by the UK Space Agency review speaks volumes for the quality and location of Aerohub, but we are only in the initial phase of the development process. Before we make any decisions as to whether we might eventually bid to host a spaceport we need to look carefully at the Civil Aviation Authority's technical report and engage with the consultation over the coming months before deciding on any next steps."

This announcement supports Aerohub @ Newquay Cornwall Airport's commitment to advanced technologies. A new concept for an advanced technologies skills project was launched today which would underpin the UK economy by supporting the growth of an advanced manufacturing base. The project would complement and support the UK's wider aerospace and advanced engineering strategy, as it improves competitiveness to meet the anticipated growth in demand from the aerospace and advanced engineering markets, the Space Port being a prime example of this demand.

The cross-government team will be seeking (via a closed process) bids from the eight sites in the UK to become the UK's space port. Newquay Airport is the only airport shortlisted in England. The other sites include:

1.Llanbedr - Wales  2.Campbelltown, Machrihanish - Scotland  3.Glasgow Prestwick - Scotland  4.Kinloss, Moray Firth - Scotland  5.RAF Luechars - Scotland  6.RAF Lossiemouth - Scotland 7.Stornoway, Outer Hebrides - Scotland.

This video demonstrates some of the operational capabilities of the SKYLON spaceplane that could be used at the Spaceport.

6:40am 16th July 2014

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