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News Archive > General > Delegation in space mission to States

Delegation in space mission to States

By Warren Wilkins 4th October 2017

Delegation in space mission to States
An image of what a spaceport at Newquay airport might look like.

A contingent is visiting North America to secure funds to build a space port in Newquay, which could be a “gamechanger” for the local economy.

The Cornwall Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is leading a trade delegation for a series of meetings with potential investors, which will involve visits to key sites, including the Mojave Air and Space Port in California and Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Sandra Rothwell, the chief executive of the Cornwall LEP, states the mission to America signals the seriousness of its intent to establish a spaceport in Newquay, which will help secure a slice of the commercial spaceflight market that could be worth £25 billion over the next 20 years, but St Mawgan Cornwall councillor John Fitter has reservations that the trip will be a waste of time and money.

Cllr Fitter is disappointed £30,000 of “hard gained” central Government funds is being spent on the visit before consulting local residents on the Cornwall Airport Newquay spaceport plan.

He also alleges there have been warnings from America that a spaceport will a white elephant rather than being a gateway to the future.

Taxpayers in New Mexico have paid out $218.5 million to build Spaceport America since 2007 but anchor tenant Virgin Galactic has yet to fly from the facility to generate income.
Mrs Rothwell said: “The LEP is leading a trade delegation to North America in support of our spaceport bid and will be meeting a range of potential investors.

“We are in a global race for investment in a commercial spaceflight market that could be worth £25 billion over the next 20 years. This mission signals the seriousness of our intent to establish a spaceport at Newquay because it could be a gamechanger for our economy and spawn a new industry that puts Cornwall at the centre of commercial spaceflight for generations to come.”

The Cornwall LEP, which drives activity to support business growth, create quality jobs and help people realise their potential, is leading the county’s bid to establish Spaceport Cornwall. The organisation believes the two sites, at Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Earth Station, will offer an unrivalled combination of horizontal launch, monitoring and tracking facilities.

Cllr Fitter does not believe the team of six that flew out from Heathrow to Los Angeles are qualified for the task. The contingent, who are due to return on Friday, include Gavin Poole, LEP private sector board member and chairman of the Spaceport Steering Group, Adam
Paynter, LEP public sector board member and leader of Cornwall Council, Phil Seeva, LEP public sector board member and leader of the Conservative Group on Cornwall Council, Miles
Carden, Aerohub Enterprise Zone manager and Spaceport lead at Cornwall Airport Newquay, as well as Ross Hulbert, Space and Aerospace Business engagement manager at Invest in Cornwall.

The £30,000 cost of the trip, which includes travel from Cornwall to London, flights to the US, internal flights while there and all accommodation, is being met by the LEP which is core funded by central Government to promote economic development and job creation in Cornwall.

Cllr Fitter said: “I am disappointed that the LEP should choose to spend £30,000 of Cornwall’s hard gained central Government funded money in this way.

“I am certainly not convinced that this is a sensible use of our funds, especially as I understood from a recent briefing given by the Enterprise Zone manager at the Airport Consultative Forum meeting that no decision had been made to proceed with a formal bid. I would be more impressed with the LEP Board if they were to spend £100 on holding a public meeting and inviting the residents of St Mawgan, Colan and Newquay to attend so as they can learn what action is taking place in their name to develop a spaceport at the airport.

“After all, living as they all do in hamlets, villages and the town surrounding the airport they have a vested interest,  more them the rest of the Duchy I would submit, in finding out what is actually taking place. I sincerely hope that after this ‘jolly’ to America someone will take the trouble to call that meeting and explain themselves to the people.

“The whole thing is a farce and indeed comments have already been made by folks from across the pond warning the Cornish delegation of the dangers of becoming involved with this type of project. And what experience have any of the delegation got of the
requirement of a so-called space city or spaceport? None.”

Cornwall Airport Newquay faces strong competition in its bid to secure millions of pounds worth of Government funding to establish a spaceport.

The UK Space Agency has recommended multiple small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight projects for further consideration to secure part of the £10 million being offered after receiving 26 joint proposals from potential spaceports and operators across the country.

Cornwall Airport Newquay could well be among the shortlist following Aerohub Enterprise Zone manager Miles Carden stating they are looking forward to continuing to work with the space agency to provide a horizontal launch spaceport facility.

By Warren Wilkins 4th October 2017

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