There are significant opportunities for the growing UK space sector as commercial space activity increases globally and the United States leads international efforts to return humans to the Moon by 2024.
New facilities and operational capabilities will be developed at Newquay airport (Spaceport Cornwall), with US launch operator Virgin Orbit, to enable small satellite launches at the site in the early 2020s. The UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council intend to make up to £20 million available for the project. This investment remains subject to business case approval processes, including from Cornwall Council later in 2019.
Spaceport Cornwall could create 150 jobs and enable the UK to compete for a share of the global market for launching small satellites worth a potential £3.9 billion to 2030. Launches from the UK will become an opportunity to inspire children and young people to take up careers in science, engineering or even as space entrepreneurs.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: ”Space is not only about pushing the boundaries of human knowledge, it is a rapidly growing sector of our economy which plays a key role in our modern Industrial Strategy, promotes global Britain and ensures our national security.
“These exciting plans from Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit to make horizontal launch a reality from Cornwall will help further our position as a leader in the new space age.
“Alongside our commitment to the proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, this is making the UK the most attractive place in Europe for those looking to Earth’s orbit and beyond.”
A new National Space Council, to be established later this year, will provide strategic leadership on space across government, coordinating all aspects of the UK’s space strategy, investment and use of space through a new National Space Framework.