Is Cornwall Spaceport dead in the water?

4th Dec 2023
Is Cornwall Spaceport dead in the water?

The most promising spaceport project in England was always touted as being the horizontal launch spaceport based at Newquay Airport in Cornwall, which was the exclusive launch site for Virgin Orbit.

Since the inaugural launch of Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One rocket from the underneath of a Boeing 747’s wing, which failed spectacularly just off the coast of Ireland, the Cornwall Spaceport project has looked to be on shaky ground.

Things got worse for the Spaceport when Virgin Orbit declared that it was winding down following the disastrous maiden flight. Earlier this year we reported that Virgin Orbit were selling off their assets as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Read more about it here.

Virgin Orbit had been the darling of the UK government with photo opportunities galore being used by then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson in the government’s aim to showcase its space ambitions. And now, alongside other launch sites experiencing financial difficulties, those ambitions are on a decidedly downward trajectory with no positive outcome in sight.

And as of the date of this article there is no sign of an alternative launch partner for the Cornwall Spaceport project, leading to significant doubts about the site’s future.

The UK government went a step further by actually declaring in parliament that it had no intention of bailing out Virgin Orbit (as it had previously done to rescue satellite company OneWeb).

The UK Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology at the time, George Freeman, specifically said in parliament “We’re not sitting here thinking of a major acquisition and acquiring and developing a UK sovereign launch capability”.

We will follow the plight of Cornwall Spaceport with interest with the hope that a somewhat brighter future transpires. Although at this stage that isn’t looking too promising.

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