Cornish Spaceport Wins £20m Investment for Virgin Launches

By Gary Cutlack on at

Spaceport Cornwall is the staggeringly optimistic new name for half of Newquay Airport, which is about to receive a pot of money totalling as much as £20m to expand itself enough to let Virgin's future satellite launchers operate from [checks again] Cornwall.

It won't be quite as exciting as Scotland's separate plans to open its own hyper-rural spaceport, as the concept for Spaceport Cornwall is to host the Virgin Orbit launchers. And sadly, these are not rockets, as the VO fleet of one uses a "horizontal launch solution" -- more commonly known in the aerospace industry as "an aeroplane."

It'll still be quite exciting for regional planespotters and children, though, as the Virgin launch system is built on a modded 747 that carries its Launcher One rockets up for the first part of the journey, which are then dropped and fire their engines to power their small satellite cargo to space. And the spent rockets may land on Bodmin or Truro, which is a bonus.

The UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council think Spaceport Cornwall could create as many as 150 jobs, and we're also excited because we get to paste in some words from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership for the first time ever, with its chair Mark Duddridge saying: "This announcement is the culmination of five years' hard work and will be transformative for Cornwall. It puts us and the UK at the heart of the international satellite launch market, offering affordable access to space, and will inspire a generation. I am excited to announce that today the LEP have committed a further £0.5m to the funding package as a Growth Deal investment into Spaceport Infrastructure." [Spaceport Cornwall]