Spaceport Cornwall: People in Space – Melissa Thorpe

12th May 2020

The stereotype that space is not for women was destroyed 50 years ago by the first female astronaut. Since then, few can argue women’s role in the space industry. The UK has its fair share of women operating in prominent positions within the sector. Melissa Thorpe from the Cornwall Spaceport project dedicated her life to space eight years ago.

First Steps at Cornwall

Melissa Thorpe moved to England from Canada in 2010, leaving her job at the Bureau of Land Management behind. With an economics degree from the University of Vancouver and the London School of Economics and Politics, she has been advising clients on business development issues at the Cornwall Development Company for one and a half years.

Interest in aviation and space, great communication skills, and a thorough understanding of business processes have pushed Melissa to work in the aerospace industry. For over eight years now, she has been part of Aerohub Cornwall Airport Newquay. Since 2018, she has been Head of Engagement on the Spaceport Cornwall project. 

Thorpe’s job involves:

  • Attracting domestic investment
  • Managing marketing strategies
  • Monitoring industry trends
  • Maintaining Public Relations
  • Organizing events with Cornwall’s partners on other aerospace projects
  • Interacting with clients

Melissa Thorpe – latest spaceport news

Melissa is the primary source of information about the future UK spaceport. Project progress is of high interest not only to the British but also to all other countries in Europe since this continent does not have a single satellite launch site — despite producing quite a lot of satellites. The USA is also curious about this project since NASA believes its location is quite favorable; and they are interested in launching their own research satellites from Spaceport Cornwall. 

Melissa Thorpe regularly informs the public about commercial space projects and Spaceport Cornwall’s progress. She also promotes business proposals in the space industry and actively interacts with British and foreign companies.

Despite active Spaceport Cornwall development, it is not yet clear whether this facility will become the first spaceport in the UK and Europe. The competition for launch is quite high. In total, the UK plans to commission at least five launch sites in the next two years; however, almost all of them will deal with vertical launches. Spaceport Cornwall will carry out horizontal launches. Light launch vehicles carrying satellites will lift off into orbit from the wing of a specially equipped aircraft at an altitude of 30 thousand feet. This type of launch is not only more cost effective but is also less harmful to the environment. That is why Melissa Thorpe believes Spaceport Cornwall’s prospects to be bright. 

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