Spaceport backers in bid for funds
THE group behind a bid to create a spaceport in Newquay plan to bid for a “large chunk” of the £10 million the Government is offering to push forward commercial spaceflight activity in the UK.
The Cornwall Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) aims to establish horizontal spaceplane launches deploying satellites from Cornwall Airport Newquay, as well as provide low-cost access to space.
The Government is inviting applications for grants to make the UK 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.
The growing space and aerospace sector is a key priority for the Cornwall LEP as Newquay airport boasts one of the UK’s longest runways and uncongested airspace, while Goonhilly Earth Station offers mission control, tracking and communication facilities.
Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the Cornwall LEP, said: “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.”
Aerohub Enterprise Zone manager, Miles Carden, added: “It is a very welcome announcement and an exciting time for the Enterprise Zone at Cornwall Airport Newquay. We have been working hard behind the scenes for two years to build our plans for a spaceport and a complete satellite launch capability from Cornwall. We are going to make a bid to the fund and hope to get a large chunk of that £10 million for Cornwall.
“What is quite exciting about the bid is that is not just for the infrastructure for the spaceport but also for space vehicle operators such as horizontal launched spaceplanes. We are looking to deliver a specialised facility. This will house, for example, a traditional airliner with a rocket and satellite payload attached. Satellites will be launched by the rocket from the aircraft at a high altitude.
“The money would also be used to support the launch system. We are working with Goonhilly to be our mission control and system tracking services so we are offering a complete package.”
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. The Spaceflight Bill is needed because the rocket planes and other launch systems currently in development around the world would not be able to operate out of the UK.
Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, said: “We intend to publish a draft spaceflight bill later this month, dedicated to commercial spaceflight in the UK. This legislation will enable small satellite launches and sub-orbital flights from the UK, ensuring we are well placed to take advantage of a growing global market. The space sector is vital to the future of the UK economy, with a strong record of creating high-value jobs and generating wealth across the country. The UK Space Agency is inviting commercial space consortia to apply for grant funding to take the action that will make our ambitions a reality.”
“Together, the proposed legislation and grant funding will have the potential to enable commercial spaceflight from a UK spaceport by 2020.”
Jo Johnson added: “Spaceflight is one of the key pillars of our Industrial Strategy. We want to see the UK space sector flourish, that is why we are laying the groundwork needed for business to be able to access this lucrative global market worth an estimated £25 billion over the next 20 years.”
Newquay MP Steve Double has welcomed the announcement by the Government that they are launching a £10 million scheme looking for bids for grants. Mr Double said: “Cornwall Airport Newquay has been heavily tipped as a potential location for the spaceport and making this a reality is something I have been working with the excellent management team there, as well as colleagues locally and in Westminster, to bring about.
“With this announcement 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.”
The LEP and the 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 will be setting out why Newquay is the best place for a UK spaceport. Newquay will also be represented at the national UK Space Conference in Manchester later this year.
- 18th February 2017 14:05
- I heartily wish Cornwall LEP every success in this endeavour. To have St. Mawgan Aerodrome become a Spaceport would be the fulfilment of a xhildhood dream. I attended St. Mawgan Primary School as a child, and the aerodrome (where my father worked as a meteorologist, and where my son is currently a flying officer) always inspired me with dreams of the future and of deep space colonisation.