Spaceport Cornwall says next launch expected in 2025 following failed Virgin Orbit launch

Spaceport Cornwall Credit: PA images

One year ago the world’s media descended upon Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, poised for what was to be the first ever space launch from UK soil.

Virgin Orbit’s modified jet Cosmic Girl took off from Spaceport Cornwall on the night of 9January 2023.

The aircraft reached space, but a technical fault with a dislodged fuel filter meant the nine satellites onboard its LauncherOne rocket failed to deploy.

After 12 months, Spaceport Cornwall says an announcement about a new launch partner is imminent.

Ross Hulbert, head of engagement at Spaceport Cornwall told ITV News: ''I'm aware that when people think of a spaceport, they want to see launches.

"We are in early stage discussions with an established launch provider to hopefully be launching here from as early as 2025. And we're looking to announce that in the next few months.''

He continued: "We're looking at one to two launches a year, maybe three launches a year in future years, but it's never been designed to be a Cape Canaveral.

"There's never going to be a time where we'll be having a launch every single month, and that was never the intention.''

Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl Credit: ITV News

Following the unsuccessful Virgin Orbit launch, the aircraft landed safely back on the runway at Newquay, but it was to be the end of the mission. Virgin Orbit ceased operations in May 2023 and sold off its assets.

Despite the loss of the Spaceport's main launch partner, Cornwall Council says the spaceport has continued to expand as planned.

Lois Gardner is the Cornwall Council Portfolio Holder for the Economy: "I'm hugely proud of the fact that okay, ultimately, putting satellites into orbit wasn't successful, but we still conducted a successful launch here in Cornwall.

"We remain the only operational Spaceport in Western Europe. Since then we've opened the new operations facility and we've introduced a number of new space related businesses into Cornwall.''

The hangar known as the Integration facility used by Virgin Orbit is currently empty.

A new non-launch interim tenant is expected to move in for the next 12-18 months.

The Space Systems Operations Facility Credit: ITV News

In total, 13 space related firms have moved into the newly built Space Systems Operations Facility also at the Spaceport site.

They include Avanti Communications, which operates a fleet of four satellites from both Goonhilly and Spaceport Cornwall.

Paul Collins, the firm's Director of Spacecraft Operations, said: "People have now become aware that there is actually a space industry down here.

"It's always been here. It's just not had much of a high profile. For us it's really exciting. This facility is really perfect for our particular needs."

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