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WATCH: Spaceport Could Mean 400 Jobs For Cornwall

Newquay Spaceport Conceptual image
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8:31am 12th February 2017
(Updated 8:31am 12th February 2017)

Cornwall could see hundreds of new jobs if a spaceport at Newquay gets the green light.

Industry bosses say it could boost the Duchy's economy by 40 to 50 million pounds too - in the first stage alone.

It comes as the government opens up applications and launches a £10 million grant scheme.

That could see the UK become the first place in Europe where commercial space operators can launch small satellites into orbit, or offer spaceplane flights for science and tourism from 2020.

And the funding means Newquay could boldly go where no town has gone before - as Cornwall gets set to make a bid.

Experts believe growing the space and aerospace sector is a key priority for the LEP because of Cornwall’s nationally significant infrastructure at Goonhilly Earth Station including mission control, tracking and communication facilities, and the Aerohub Enterprise Zone at Cornwall Airport Newquay with one of the UK’s longest runways and uncongested airspace.

The LEP will lead a bid to secure a UK spaceport licence.

It would allow for horizontal spaceplane launches deploying satellites from Cornwall Airport Newquay, providing low-cost access to space, and new launch capability for the UK.

Miles Carden, Enterprise Zone Manager at Aerohub, said: "I think it's really exciting - particularly exciting around the skills, around where do the children of Cornwall think they'll go into and having an aspiration with an industry like that as the airport would be incredible.

"If you're on the start of the technology journey, then you can create a supply chain - you can create an economy and jobs around that, new jobs for people in Cornwall to actually go into.

"That's the exciting part - it's the start of that technology journey, rather than jumping on halfway through or at the end of that, and that's why I think it's exciting - we can build a whole new industry.

"Even the first stages of a spaceport, we're looking at the operating aircraft, the integration and satellite technologies.

"Three or four hundred jobs could be quite easy to be seen in the first five to six years of the operation - and already that can equate to, at the moment with those four hundred jobs, to 40 to 50 millions pounds of GVA to the Cornish economy."

 

The £10 million funding to support UK spaceflight comes as the Government announced the timeline for new legislation which will facilitate and regulate commercial spaceflight.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson has promised to publish draft legislation to enable safe spaceflight from the UK by 2020 in the next few weeks.

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay has welcomed the plans to bid.

He said: "Cornwall Airport Newquay has been heavily tipped as a potential location for the Space Port and making this a reality is something I have been working with the excellent management team there, as well as colleagues both locally and in Westminster to bring about.

"With this announcement, along with its recent continued growth and the potential benefits of the Heathrow expansion, it is clear that Cornwall Airport Newquay is at an exciting place right now.

"I look forward to supporting the bid for Newquay and will continue to champion Cornwall as the best location for the UK Spaceport as we continue to explore and innovate in the field of space travel."

Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, said: "Cornwall Airport Newquay is the only site able to offer low cost access to space in the UK by the target date of 2020. We are perfectly placed to maximise the potential from the global small satellite launch market, and spaceplane development.

"We are studying the detail of the Government’s call for applications for grant support. They are expecting joint bids from potential launch sites and launch vehicle operators, and the Aerohub team at Newquay is already in dialogue with a number of potential partners from around the world.

"We are also working with three other LEPs with space-related assets to create a UK-based satellite launch programme and a UK spaceport in Cornwall. And we will be making the case for Cornwall’s ability to deliver what is a vital part of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy."

The LEP and Aerohub will be attending a UK Space Agency conference in London later this month that will highlight progress being made towards small satellite launch and sub-orbital flights in the UK.

The team for Cornwall say they will be setting out why Newquay is the best place for a UK Spaceport.

The Duchy will be represented at the national UK Space Conference in Manchester later this year.

8:31am 12th February 2017

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