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New US/UK Deal Brings Spaceport In Cornwall Closer To Reality

New US/UK Deal Brings Spaceport In Cornwall Closer To Reality

A spaceport in Cornwall has moved closer to becoming reality after British and American officials signed an agreement to let US companies launch into space from the proposed site at Newquay Cornwall Airport.

Spaceport Cornwall will be responsible for horizontal rocket launches into low-Earth orbit, whereas another site in Scotland will deal with the more traditional upright launches.

Miles Carden, who is the director of Spaceport Cornwall, said: "Today's exciting news that the UK and US governments have signed a new technology safeguarding agreement, allows us to press ahead as US companies including Virgin Orbit can now operate from Spaceport Cornwall.

"This is amazing news for the LaunchUK programme and a key step on our very real target of delivering horizontal launch services with Virgin Orbit from 2022 in Cornwall."

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An artist's impression of the proposed spaceport. Credit: SWNS
An artist's impression of the proposed spaceport. Credit: SWNS

So, the deal that is now in place means that US companies can operate out of the spaceports in Cornwall and Scotland, and also allows them to export space launch technology.

Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic group also plan to run several flights each year out of the base in order to put satellites into orbit.

They'll be taken up there on a modified Boeing 747 called 'Cosmic Girl' before being released somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

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However, they'll have to up their game, as the last test of the system ended in failure last month when the mission 'terminated shortly into the flight' over the Pacific Ocean near to California.

Cosmic Girl managed to return safely to base, though.

Virgin Galactic hopes to operate from the site. Credit: SWNS
Virgin Galactic hopes to operate from the site. Credit: SWNS

This new project will see £500,000 invested through the government's Local Growth Fund, which will be good for the area.

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Glenn Caplin, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "This is excellent news for Cornwall's space programme and means American space companies like Virgin Orbit can launch from British soil for the first time and be assured that their technologies will be protected.

"Our ongoing investment in Cornwall's space sector at Newquay and Goonhilly means we are well positioned to play an important role in the global space economy."

Science Minister Amanda Solloway added: "This deal with the US takes us one step closer to seeing the first launch into space from British soil.

"This is a key moment for our commercial space industry, and I look forward to seeing companies from Scotland to Newquay benefiting, and the creation of highly skilled jobs on both sides of the Atlantic."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: Science, UK News, space

Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a LADbible journalist and Twin Peaks enthusiast. Despite having a career in football cut short by a chronic lack of talent, he managed to obtain degrees from both the University of London and Salford. According to his French teacher, at the weekends he mostly likes to play football and go to the park with his brother. Contact Tom on [email protected]