Support from government for possible Spaceport project at Newquay Airport
Cornwall Council and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have been developing a potential project for a spaceport based at Newquay Airport. The proposal would be for satellites to be launched in what is known as horizontal launch mode where a rocket is secured under the wing of an aircraft; the aircraft takes off from the normal runway; then at high altitude a few hundred miles off the coast, the rocket is released and it propels the satellites into orbit. This is in contrast to the normal vertical launch method where the rocket takes off from the ground at a specially constructed facility such as Kennedy Spaceport in Florida or from the Russian base in Kazakhstan. Cornwall has signed an understanding with Richard Branson to bring horizontal launch to Newquay Airport.
In June 2019, the government announced that it would provide a grant of nearly £8 million to Cornwall towards the costs of developing the ground facilities at Newquay. It is estimated that a further £12 million would have to be provided by Cornwall Council to enable the project to proceed.
It is anticipated that the proposal will be brought to the September Cabinet meeting for consideration.