Exciting news for Cornwall this week!
It was announced that the Spaceport Cornwall facility based at Newquay Airport, had reached an agreement with Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit.
Initially it will mean that just satellites will be launched from the site, so there’ll be no vertical rockets shooting up into the sky from Newquay just yet, or buildings going up or for space tourism.
However, it is hoped that the Spaceport could eventually host tourist flights into space with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
The agreement aims to have the first three launches being made in 2021, making the facility the horizontal launch spaceport for the UK. A vertical spaceport will be located in Scotland.
Virgin Orbit, is using Boeing 747 planes which are used to launch satellites into space.
The planes will take off from Newquay and then fly out over the Atlantic where they will launch the rockets and satellites into space before then returning to the ground in Cornwall.
The deal, which was announced at the Farnborough Air Show, will enable Spaceport Cornwall to secure more companies to operate, and sees a partnership between Spaceport Cornwall, Virgin Orbit, Cornwall Council and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
It is envisaged that the agreement will lead to a £1 billion investment by Virgin Orbit and could create up to 480 jobs and bring £25 million into the Cornish economy.
The UK space industry is worth about £7 billion and employs more than 38,000 people, and the aim is for the UK to have 10% of the global share of the market by 2030.
Virgin Orbit is due to undertake some test launches next month, and the development as a whole, will help establish Cornwall a global leader in the space industry with new highly skilled and highly paid jobs on offer.