Spaceport Cornwall set for ‘lift off’

Posted on 26 Jun 2019 and read 754 times
Spaceport Cornwall set for ‘lift off’The UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council intend to make available up to £20 million for Spaceport Cornwall and US-launch operator Virgin Orbit to “develop facilities and operational capabilities that would pave the way for small-satellite launches from Cornwall in the early 2020s”.

This funding remains subject to business-case approval processes, including by Cornwall Council later this year, but if it gets the ‘green light’ would consist of up to £12 million from Cornwall Council and up to £7.85 million from the UK Space Agency ( — plus £500,000 from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

Spaceport Cornwall could create up to 150 jobs and enable the UK to compete for a share of the global market for launching small satellites (worth up to £3.9 billion to 2030). 

The UK Government is working with the USA to establish the necessary technical and legal safeguards for US space launch vehicle operations from UK launch sites.

The US State Department has already approved a Technical Assistance Agreement allowing detailed technical discussions and strategic planning to commence.

This would allow Virgin Orbit, which is also investing around £2.5 million in the project, to operate its LauncherOne system and Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft from Cornwall Airport Newquay.

A maiden US launch is expected later this year.

Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit (, said: “We are very proud to play a role in bringing space launch back to Britain.

“The Virgin Orbit team has now demonstrated every major assembly of our LauncherOne system and are within arm’s reach of bringing it to the UK.”

Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council, said: “Technology and space are at the heart of our 21st century economy.

“With assets like Spaceport Cornwall, world-class mission control facilities at Goonhilly Earth Station and superb digital connectivity, Cornwall will play a vital role in the growth of the global space economy.”

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