Dec 20th, 2023 | Blog

Looking Back: A Year of Inspiration and Innovation

It has been a big year for us. From becoming the UK’s first licenced spaceport to opening our new Space Systems Operations Facility – we’ve been hard at work ensuring a bright future for the UK space sector. When we’ve not been stargazing this year, we’ve been developing our cluster, hosting events, and investing in the next generation of great minds. While helping our youngest people to envision their future career in STEM, we have also been investing in our current science, technology, and engineering sectors through providing new spaces and setting standards for a greener industry.

We opened a Space Systems Operations Facility

  • Unveiling our brand new operations facility was a pivotal moment of this year, creating opportunities for innovation and collaboration in Cornwall’s thriving space and STEAM sector. Here’s the team chatting about the opening on Radio Cornwall!
  • Serving as a versatile shared workspace, this facility is an opportunity for businesses to come together to network, boosting Cornwall’s space cluster growth.
  • The facility is currently home to 13 space and data based businesses, and that number continues to grow.
  • Beyond the workspace, it is also home to Responsible Launch Services – helping to reduce the carbon footprint of our launches – and research that could reshape the industry.

Launch Partners

  • We continued working with our future operators, such as Sierra Space and Space Engine Systems, who are developing innovative horizontal launch systems and are looking to use Spaceport Cornwall for system development and UK return missions.
  • We’re also in discussions with an established horizontal launch provider regarding the provision of launch services from the UK and hope to have an agreement in place early next year to support launches from mid-2025. More on that coming in early 2024!

Championing a Greener UK Space Sector 

  • Strides in sustainability were made as the University of Exeter was commissioned to author a report on Spaceport Cornwall’s impact on the county’s carbon footprint, helping us take accountability.
  • The team attended a sustainability workshop hosted by TerraVerde Sustainability, learning about the barriers and opportunities for Cornwall to reach Net Zero by 2030.
  • We’re continuing with our holistic approach to reaching Net Zero. Between the use of sustainable propellants, the installation of PVA for micro regeneration, and funding further environmental research, we’re working on setting a new standard for the space and STEAM industries.
  • We’re developing Kernow Sat-1 with our partners, KISPE. Kernow Sat-1 is a satellite designed to monitor the health of our seas, looking at sea pollution, kelp forestry, and rising sea levels. By providing the information from the satellite to our future space scientists in schools, alongside local organisations, we hope the data gained will continue to help the next generation be environmentally aware and boost their interest in STEM careers. 

Cultivating Future Pioneers 

  • This year we have visited 100 UK schools, helping to inspire over 200,000 young people to #TakeUpSpace as a career in the space industry.
  • In July, our Education and Outreach Manager attended national discussions at 10 Downing Street, on furthering skills development and promoting the uptake of STEM careers in the UK.
  • We hosted work experience students from schools across Cornwall. Delving into real world challenges, the students worked hard on their launch day projects, getting a glimpse into the space industry through hands-on engagement. Our next Work Experience Week application has just opened and closes on 8th January. Apply now!
  • Halfway through 2023’s Work Experience Week, we welcomed guests from Kunisaki High School and Spaceport Oita from Japan. The ongoing relationship between ourselves and Spaceport Oita has had an incredible impact on international STEM relations and cultural exchange. This December Kunisaki and Richard Lander School in Truro became sister schools. This agreement is designed to promote understanding, and create fantastic experiences for students through cultural exchanges.
  • Saying goodbye to our SPINtern was so hard! We worked with Adam to create a fantastic report about our mission to become Europe’s go-to horizontal space launch destination. If you’re interested in a career in the UK space industry, The 2024 SPINtern programme is now live.
  • We attended the Future Flight Convention, enabling 85 young people to get stuck in designing and piloting their very own gliders.

Encouraging Young People to Take Up Space 

  • In May, we hosted a Girls in STEM event, where attendees were able to take part in activities and discussions hosted by Spaceport Cornwall’s partners. We were thrilled to welcome Goonhilly Earth Station, Cornish Lithium, and Real Ideas Organisation amongst others, showcasing a wide range of future careers.
  • 400 people attended the event, showcasing the brilliant opportunities for young people across Cornwall.
  • Investing in the emerging minds of the next generation is one of the core purposes of our mission.  

Events and Conferences

  • We’ve been invited to speak at industry conferences in the UK and abroad showcasing our unique capability as the only operational spaceport in Western Europe.
  • It’s been a year of excitement and growth too for Cornwall Airport Newquay. Officially now the UK’s fastest growing regional airport, we benefit hugely from the connectivity the airport provides. In November, we enjoyed flying to Belfast direct from Newquay to attend the UK Space Conference alongside colleagues from the Cornwall Space Cluster.

See you in 2024!