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

 The facility will be home to a network of innovative businesses across a wide range of industries that use space or satellites.

The centre aims to create a new space for innovation, 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 provide state-of-the-art buildings for businesses to design, develop, launch, track, and use the data from, satellites.

The Space Systems Operations Facility 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.

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 Space Systems Operations Facility  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.

Melissa Quinn, the head of Spaceport Cornwall addresses the attendees at the launch (Warren Wilkins)

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.

Mrs Quinn said: "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.”

Mr Archer added: “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.”