Space Commerce

Spaceport Cornwall Opens New Space Systems Operations Facility

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
spaceport Cornwall
May 3, 2023
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Spaceport Cornwall Opens New Space Systems Operations Facility
Spaceport Cornwall

Spaceport Cornwall’s new Space Systems Operations Facility (SSOF) has officially opened its doors, marking a key moment in the levelling up of Cornwall’s already thriving space and STEAM sector.

The launch of the SSOF is an exciting milestone for the future of Cornwall’s space cluster. The facility will be home to a network of innovative businesses across a wide range of industries that use space or satellites

Creating a new space for innovation, the SSOF aims to boost inward investment into the county and drive collaboration between organisations that will fuel the growth of the sector by providing the full service of space capabilities.

Combined with Spaceport Cornwall’s Space Systems Integration Facility (SSIF), the Space Systems Operation Facility completes the Centre for Space Technologies, a £5.6M project funded by ERDF and Cornwall Council. The two facilities of the CST provide state-of-the-art buildings for businesses to design, develop, launch, track, and use the data from, satellites.The SSOF houses a new clean room that businesses based within the facility can make use of, in addition to having access to the larger clean room in the SSIF. Making Cornwall the only region in the UK where a satellite could be built, integrated, and launched.

Cornwall is currently home to over 500 companies in the space and data sector. This industry is thriving and continues to grow, with a GVA of £88m and employment within the sector up 24% since 2018.

The opening of the SSOF will continue this upward trend, with multiple organisations from across the space cluster already showing a keen interest in setting up a base at the new facility, including: Avanti Communications, Goonhilly, KISPE, D-Orbit, Exobotics, Expleo, Geospatial Ventures, Satellite Applications Catapult, Space Skills Alliance and Intelligent AI.

At the opening event, attendees heard from a number of key figures in the UK space industry. Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melssa Quinn, welcomed visitors and spoke about the bright future of Spaceport Cornwall and the UK space sector; the UK Space Agency’s Director of Launch, Matthew Archer, offered a national perspective on the benefits of the facilities in Cornwall and talked about building on success of the UK’s first orbital launch campaign; Cornwall Councillor Louis Gardner shared his support for the programme and spoke about the how the benefits to the local community; Phil Melville of Kier discussed the project delivery of building; and Joel Freedman, Head of Innovation at Satellite Applications Catapult, announced the establishment of the Space Enterprise Lab and how businesses can access it.

Cornwall is well-positioned to capitalise on the growing space industry and contribute to the growth and development of the sector through development of the necessary supporting infrastructure that will drive investment and attract a new generation of skilled workers into space and STEAM careers. The opening of the Space Systems Operations Facility is another step towards making Cornwall and the UK a major player in the thriving space industry.

Melissa Quinn, Head of Spaceport Cornwall: “The opening of the Space Systems Operations Facility marks a significant milestone for Spaceport Cornwall and the growth of Cornwall’s space sector. By providing state-of-the-art facilities on-site, to businesses across the space ecosystem, including launch, manufacturing, satellite applications, data and environmental intelligence, we are diversifying our activity and leveraging previous investments into the Spaceport. This will help us to attract further businesses, grow the skills pipeline and support collaborations for using Space for Good.

Councillor Louis Gardner, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Cornwall Council: “This is a hugely exciting next step in Spaceport Cornwall’s journey. Seeing a facility like this open – bringing in new businesses, new employment and new jobs into Cornwall is fantastic. We all know businesses innovate best through collaboration, and the space for forging those relationships within the space industry didn’t exist in Cornwall until now. This facility that brings aerospace and space alongside each other in one place is exactly what this industry needs.”

Minister for Space at the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman MP said: “The government is committed to supporting the growth of the Cornwall Space Cluster and the UK’s first licensed spaceport, which is already attracting innovators and investors, creating jobs and levelling up the economy. The new Space Systems Operations Facility will be at the heart of this development, driving collaboration and providing state-of-the-art facilities to develop and launch satellites.

“The UK space sector is thriving, generating an income of £17.5 billion a year and employing almost 49,000 people. The government remains committed to supporting the development of a dynamic UK spaceflight sector, and our focus is on supporting multiple projects designed to make the UK the leading provider of commercial small satellite launch in Europe by 2030, generating more jobs and growth across the country.”

Matt Archer, Director of Commercial Spaceflight at the UK Space Agency, said: “Cornwall is home to a unique network of dynamic businesses, leading research centres and world class facilities. The Cornwall Space Cluster is bringing together all of these capabilities, positioning the region at the forefront of the UK’s growing space economy and ensuring that it plays a vital role in delivering the ambitions and opportunities set out in the National Space Strategy.

“The new Space Systems Operations Facility shows the region is continuing to attract international businesses, creating high-skilled employment within the local community.”

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.