It was announced yesterday that Cornwall Council, the UK Space Agency and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership would offer funding of up to £20m for Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit to develop facilities and operational capabilities to enable satellite launches from Cornwall Airport Newquay. This is part of the government's plan to ensure the UK plays a leading role in the new commercial space age, as part of its modern Industrial Strategy.
This project will help enable the UK to compete for a share of the global small satellite launch market, estimated to be worth up to £3.9 billion to 2030.
There is still work to be done on the regulatory side of things and so the UK and US governments are working together to establish the necessary technical and legal safeguards for US space launch vehicle operations from UK launch sites. The US State Department has approved a Technical Assistance Agreement allowing detailed technical discussions and strategic planning to take place. This is required to enable Virgin Orbit to operate its LauncherOne system and Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft from Cornwall Airport Newquay.
Watch this space...
There is currently a major shift taking place in the business of space, which is seeing many more smaller satellites going into orbit - in the class that Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket has been designed to facilitate.