Miles Carden, the Director of Spaceport Cornwall, led an All Members Briefing today at Cornwall Council, discussing the latest developments of their investment proposal, for a horizontal spaceport in Cornwall, to the UK Space Agency.
Part of a larger initiative, the Space Action Plan for Cornwall, drawn up by The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) , which could bring an overall 10,000 jobs by 2030, strives to be at the forefront of “space utilisation, launch, rapid transit and research, accelerating economic growth through innovation, academic research and education.”
This includes the creation of a Space Science Hub for research, education and training hub dedication to space science and advancements, the UK’s first spaceport in Cornwall, and collaborating with Goonhilly Earth Station in developing an international centre for communications and data.
Initial doubts raised by the councillors were based on the assumption that due to the £1.5m spent by the Council to aid the funding of the Cornwall Newquay Airport, that the tax payer’s money would be used within the development of Spaceport Cornwall on this site. However, Miles Carden, reassured the councillors that it was a “commercially driven proposition” in which Cornwall Council would be partnered with as an investment, rather than a grant.
The ambition behind this is to have space industry research, design, test, launch, and tracking all based from Cornwall, with the Spaceport Cornwall fully integrating with Cornwall Airport Newquay, as the UK’s newest and fastest growing airport, to provide a site to be global leader for human spaceflight, satellite launch and passenger services.
They hope this will be a positive and aspirational project for Cornwall, building on a pioneering history and inspiring children to pursue STEM subjects, and get involved with space off the back of the recent excitement and engagement with astronaut Tim Peak.
Spaceport Cornwall has projected 480 jobs will be available in the region, bringing a value of £25m in GVA to the area.
Councillors showed concern on the current education and outreach structure for lack of grown talent in Cornwall. While it was positively expressed that the average income for an employee at the Spaceport Cornwall was estimated at £35-40,000, and the majority supported the opportunities Spaceport Cornwall could produce for a future generation in this county, they were apprehensive the space industry investment would attract people imported from outside of Cornwall.
Carden, the Spaceport Cornwall Director, acknowledged this issue raised by the councillor’s questions and felt it was there duty aid nurturing the development of the relevant skills and qualifications locally.
With seven other sites in the UK pursuing spaceport status, in Scotland and Wales, the proposed plans for Spaceport Cornwall still have an air of uncertainty. However, in response to this Carden expressed confidence that the potential commercial launch operators they had been in talks with, would collaborate with Spaceport Cornwall, if the proposal gains funding and momentum.
He was also adamant that if this did not progress as planned that the projects aligned within the Space Action for Cornwall, would continue space development in the county, stating, “We are building for a very long-term future.”