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Spaceport for Cornwall moves one step closer

Spaceport for Cornwall moves one step closer

Published by Emma Carton at 2:21pm 6th November 2019.

Spaceport Cornwall has secured more than £7million from the UK Space Agency, to launch small satellites from Newquay.

Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit has been awarded the money, which will enable horizontal launches.

The funding will help to develop advanced ground support equipment, including UK-based manufacturing of key equipment, and conduct mission planning. 

Together with funding from the Cornwall Council for spaceport infrastructure, this grant helps secure the first satellite launch from Spaceport Cornwall.

space
Spaceport Cornwall has secured over £7million of funding to launch small satellites from Newquay. Photo: Virgin Orbit

Pending all the necessary regulatory approvals, which Virgin Orbit is planning launches in the early 2020s!

Spaceport Cornwall estimates a horizontal launch spaceport could create 150 immediate jobs, as well as future opportunities for other local businesses.

"We want the UK to be the first country in Europe to give its small satellite manufacturers a clear route from the factory to the spaceport. 

"That's why it's so important that we are developing new infrastructure to allow aircraft to take off and deploy satellites, a key capability that the UK currently lacks.

"Today's announcement will help the UK to harness the commercial opportunities offered by the global space industry and put the UK firmly on the map as Europe's leading launch destination".

Science Minister, Chris Skidmore

Virgin Orbit spaceport satellites
Pending regulatory approvals, Virgin Orbit is planning launches from Cornwall Airport Newquay in the early 2020s. Photo: Virgin Orbit

The UK Space Agency originally announced its intention to award funding to Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit in June, as part of a wider £20million funding package from the council and Local Enterprise Partnership.

Cornwall Council are expected to confirm whether they will award £10 million capital funding to the project at a council meeting later this month.

Pending regulatory approvals in the US and UK, Virgin Orbit plan to operate its LauncherOne system from Cornwall Airport Newquay using a modified Boeing 747 jet to carry the launcher system. 

Virgin Orbit will make its own contribution to the project of around £2.5 million, with the company's launch activities hoping to attract investment and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

"We're tremendously excited to be supporting the UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council by bringing space launch to the UK. 

"By establishing a strong local hub for our launch system, this joint project will boost UK participation in a fast-growing global space economy while also providing direct, ready, and responsive access to space for government missions.

"We very much look forward to furthering our ties with the cutting-edge satellite innovators across the UK and with local industry, who will be critical partners in fulfilling the full potential of this endeavour.

"We're eager to set up a world-class launch facility at Spaceport Cornwall, bring domestic space launch to the UK, and launch the next generation of satellite developers in their quest to better understand our Earth and our environment, connect human kind, serve national security, and explore our solar system".

Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit

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