Melissa Thorpe has been appointed the CEO of Spaceport Cornwall29th Sep 2021
Spaceport Cornwall has announced Melissa Thorpe has been promoted to CEO. Ms Thorpe, who has been with the project since day one, shares the facility’s plans for the future. In an interview for Orbital Today, she also talks about the first upcoming UK launch, education in the UK, and the economic benefits of Spaceport Cornwall.
Spaceport Cornwall promotes veteran within the company to CEO
Melissa Thorpe, an economist with a background in aviation and aerospace, has been with the company since it was established in 2014. She first took the title of Head of Engagement for the Spaceport Cornwall project, fulfilling the duties of head of marketing and outreach and business development. For 12 years, Melissa worked with her predecessor, Miles Carden, on several vital company projects, including the Bristow project and the rescue project, carried out on behalf of HM Coastguard.
Melissa said she’s always believed that Cornwall would become known for its launch ports. She claims to have been with the spaceport from day one and notes that this journey was exciting but required a lot of hard work. She believes that people are hungry for satellites and their associated benefits. Melissa Thorpe is also confident that Spaceport Cornwall will set a new standard for environmentally sustainable space launches.
Thorpe wants to make Spaceport Cornwall into a dedicated rocket manufacturer
According to Melissa Thorpe, Cornwall is a great launch facility that already has a potential launch operator – Virgin Orbit. The Spaceport Cornwall facility is fully prepared to begin satellite design, assembly, and manufacturing at a moment’s notice. If the company attracts more attention to its functioning facility, Cornwall could create as many as 150 job openings by 2025, with an additional 240 job opportunities in the supply chain.
The public sector has opened up regarding their opinion of Spaceport Cornwall, and so far, it has been rather positive. The public sector organisation believes that if additional job openings are created in the next few years, the facility could generate £250 million into Cornwall’s economy, on top of the existing £2 million it has already generated in research and development.
Currently, Spaceport Cornwall is home to the Story of a Satellite Exhibition, which showcases the most vital achievements that humanity has reached in aerospace. The exhibit is currently closed to the public to be dismantled and moved to the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro and Eden Project.
Spaceport Cornwall to carry out its maiden satellite launch on the Queen’s Jubilee
The spaceport has been preparing for this moment for quite some time now. The launch will not only be a technical achievement in itself but will also open a new chapter in the Duchy’s technological history.
Spaceport Cornwall is a public sector that is funded by taxpayer finances. Every new piece of technology has to be researched or every launch needs to be calculated for maximum efficiency, so as not to waste resources.
Melissa Thorpe adds that the spaceport is not allowed to launch without a purpose. The first launch may happen next year with a real payload onboard. Melissa adds that no one wants to fire blanks with taxpayer money, so nothing should go to waste.
The satellite will be completely designed and constructed by Spaceport Cornwall and will be the first satellite launched out of Cornwall. The Kernow Sat 1 is being designed to be sustainable and efficient enough, with a small carbon footprint. The company is taking extra measures to be environmentally conscious. The satellite will be used to monitor farmland and provide a comprehensive geo analysis of weather and marine conditions.
What does the future hold for Spaceport Cornwall?
Melissa Thorpe has expressed her excitement over the possibility of gathering more support for the spaceport. The CEO is currently working with ESA and NASA to formulate a plan to use the existing manufacturing plant. Spaceport Cornwall is also in talks with Sierra Nevada, developing a reusable spaceplane to reduce space junk build-up and reduce the costs associated with spacecraft construction.
Melissa Thorpe shared that the company’s dream is to work on eco-friendly projects, such as Dream Chaser, to create an environmentally healthy future for the Space Industry and Spaceport Cornwall.