UK Spaceflight Programme

49 years on from the original release of David Bowie's Space Oddity, the countdown has begun for the commercial space launch from a UK Spaceport - is space travel about to be secured from Cornwall?

The decision is imminent

Possible UK Spaceport Location

The sites shortlisted for the UK's first Spaceport are:

  • England: Newquay Cornwall Airport (formerly RAF St Mawgan)
  • Scotland: Campbelltown Airport, RAF Kinloss, RAF Leuchars, RAF Lossiemouth, Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Stornoway Airport
  • Wales: Llanbedr Airfield

What is the UK Space Agency looking for in the selection of the Spaceport location:

  • remote site
  • regular airline traffic is low
  • a longer-than usual runway or room to build one (due to hypersonic re-entry)

Advantages of Cornwall Airport Newquay

Cornwall Airport Newquay seems to be a good fit having one of the UK’s longest runways at 2,744m and access to uncongested and clear segregated airspace. Direct access to the sea and a low population density will be other benefits of their bid to offer a combination of horizontal launch, monitoring and tracking facilities.

The airport also has the advantage of being an Aerohub Enterprise Zone, which means it offers a planning free development site, as well as tax relief incentives and superfast broadband, for companies who may be attracted to aligning themselves with this cutting edge project.

Spaceport Cornwall say:

Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Earth Station are well placed to play a critical role in developing the UK’s space industry with the creation of a Spaceport. Together they provide a complete ‘end to end’ UK launch capability to support all aspects of launch, including suborbital vehicles and systems and those able to place satellites into earth orbit.

The selected Spaceport will be the first European location from which commercial space operators will be able to offer suborbital science and tourist flights and launch small satellites into orbit. 

£50 million has been made available by the UK Government to support the spaceflight venture, to develop the Space Industry Act and related regulation, to make the UK a forerunning global destination to build and commercially develop the space business.

Opportunities for tourism, employment, construction, science and engineering will inevitably be boundless for the selection location.

This article was written by Katharine Rutherford. For more information please contact the Construction and Infrastructure team.

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