Following the activity at the UK’s first horizontal launch site during G7 – including the Prime Minister’s visit to the hangar at Cornwall Airport Newquay, which hosted Virgin Orbit’s replica LauncherOne rocket – Spaceport Cornwall is set to be awarded £150,000 legacy funding by UK Government to continue a program of STEM activities.
This funding, which is subject to business case approval by UK Government, will be used to maximize the impact of the first launch from Spaceport Cornwall throughout the next year, focusing on a coordinated range of outreach events that will engage all audiences – from students to the general public – in STEM and promote Cornwall’s developing space cluster.
The program is anticipated to reach more than 700,000 people, offering at least 10,000 students interactive hands-on experience at the home of UK space launch. A key part of the planned engagement will be three exhibitions open to the general public from August 2021 – July 2022.
The first will be held at Cornwall Airport Newquay. Launching August 2nd, “Story of a Satellite: journey of a UK satellite” will feature Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne replica rocket and will be an interactive exhibition with rolling 1 – 1.5 hour experiences.
The exhibit is a UK first, bringing together the strength of the UK’s space supply chain under one roof. Aimed at shining a spotlight on the innovation taking place – from sustainable launch to space debris removal technologies – during the journey around the space, visitors will be able to engage with key businesses and organisations pioneering the next era of space exploration – including the UK Space Agency, OneWeb, D-orbit, Surrey Satellites, Sierra Space, Skyrora, Proto Launch, Goonhilly Earth Station, Avanti Communications, University of Exeter, Eden Project, Astroscale and the Satellite Applications Catapult.
The exhibit will take visitors from the subsystems and infrastructure of smallsats to the launch vehicles at the heart of the UK’s ambitions and to the ground stations that will receive communications and data from launch – eventually leading them to a demonstration of real-world applications of satellite data and how it benefits life on Earth. There will also be the opportunity to learn more about Kernow Sat 1 – the UK’s first community satellite to be launched from Spaceport Cornwall in 2022. The exhibit will be open to the general public and it is expected to host around 15,000 visitors during the summer, including many local schools.
The second exhibition will be hosted at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro later in the year. “Step Into Space” will showcase the rich history and future of space in Cornwall. Set against a backdrop of Cornwall’s innovative industrial history, it will feature interactive information on the region’s pioneering space industry and what the future holds.
The final exhibition will remain fixed at the Eden Project – demonstrating the benefits of space and satellite technology to life on earth. The “Space & Environmental Intelligence” exhibit will be home to physical information on the positive impact of satellite technology and will also host talks and panel discussions around the relationship between space and the environment.
Alongside these public facing exhibitions, Spaceport Cornwall will be running around 2,500 hands-on half day experiences for students at their Education Centre. “Inspiration Space” will focus on enthusing the next generation, detailing the possibilities and potential of the space activity happening on their doorstep, and what it could mean for their future. By bringing space home, Spaceport Cornwall wants to engage audiences in the STEM learning that will ultimately increase the amount of students studying STEM subjects in the future, and showcase the career and economic opportunities that space in Cornwall is bringing.
ESA Astronaut Tim Peake said, “There are so many exciting developments happening in UK space right now. This program of outreach activities will be key in continuing to inspire and teach our next generation who will pioneer the future of our industry.”
Ian Annett, Deputy CEO for Program Delivery, UK Space Agency, said, “As the UK space sector continues to thrive, and we look towards the first small satellite launches from UK soil in 2022, Cornwall has a bright future as a centre of excellence and achievement in space. We want young people across the UK to share in the excitement and opportunities that space offers, and this exhibition is a great way to inspire a new generation of engineers, scientists and explorers.”
Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa Thorp, said, “We were honored to welcome world leaders to our hangar during G7 and we’re now thrilled to be able to welcome the next generation of leaders in STEM, and beyond, to these exhibits. We want to demonstrate the positive impact space can have on us all and lead the way in engaging communities both locally and globally.”
Virgin Orbit CEO, Dan Hart, said, “With the UK’s space industry in the midst of an extraordinary evolution, it’s the perfect time to inspire, educate, and engage with the space leaders of tomorrow. We’re proud to work alongside Spaceport Cornwall to get students excited about space and all the benefits that come along with a thriving local industry.”