2022 promises to big a big year for the space industry in the UK. Among the various activities are the beginnings of the UK’s National Space Strategy and the first commercial launch from Spaceport Cornwall.
As you can probably imagine, the latter has led to numerous PR events and activities to create an understandable buzz around the launch. Let us look at what Spaceport Cornwall has in store for the coming months.
In summer 2022, Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit will conduct their first launch. A modified Boeing 747 will take off from the horizontal launch runway carrying a Virgin Launcher One that will carry several satellites into Low Earth Orbit.
It will be a historic event for several reasons, as we have discussed in a previous post. Hopefully, it will set a precedent for the quality of future launches in the UK, thereby cementing the country’s hopeful place in the global space sector.
Although Spaceport Cornwall’s launch has been in the public eye for some time now, publicity is on the up for the coming months. In October 2021, Spaceport Cornwall took part in an exhibition that looked at the county’s contribution to travel between the Industrial Age and now. As part of the exhibition, Spaceport Cornwall opened its hangar to display a model satellite and plane, along with a brief history of the company.
Also, in November 2021, the head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa Thorpe and Virgin Orbit’s vice president of government affairs, Janice Starzyk, took part in the ASCEND virtual conference. Their discussions focused on the importance of the space sector for Cornwall and the UK and, perhaps more importantly, the role of sustainability.
One of Spaceport Cornwall’s biggest selling points (particularly to the locals) is its focus on sustainability. Part of its justification for starting the project is that Cornwall is already home to more than 55 space companies, including Goonhilly, Avanti, and Exobotics. Therefore, building a spaceport in Cornwall makes sense, as it is in close proximity.
Luckily, there are still plenty of events coming up in the new year, so do not worry if you have missed out so far. In January, Spaceport Cornwall is hosting a virtual introduction to the facility and its launch, led by speaker Dave Pollard, the company’s Education and Outreach manager. Although it has not yet announced any other events, this is clearly the first in a series building up to the summer launch.
The UK has a history of working on significant space projects, whether with NASA, the ESA, or as a producer of satellites. However, the Spaceport Cornwall marks the first space launch from UK soil, making it a major event in the country’s longstanding space history.
It is therefore understandable that there are events to celebrate the upcoming event. Hopefully, a successful launch from Cornwall will also mark the beginning of the next phase of the UK’s space sector.