Home U.K EU's Galileo blow: UK could launch OneWeb from Cornwall ‘more effectively’

EU's Galileo blow: UK could launch OneWeb from Cornwall ‘more effectively’

0


Spaceport Cornwall: Newquay set to be hub of UK space travel

Spaceport Cornwall will become Europe’s first horizontal launch site to provide a responsive, affordable and efficient way to send small satellites into Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). Richard Branson has rallied behind the project after his Virgin Orbit successfully completed the first full orbital launch of its LauncherOne system and now wants to make the Cornwall Council-funded project his “only location in Europe”. Express.co.uk previously revealed how Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been handed a “once in a lifetime” post-Brexit opportunity to create up to 350 British jobs and add up to £200million Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy.

Interim head of Spaceport Cornwall Melissa Thorpe has stated that “anything is possible” for the future of the project, including the “possibility” of launching the Government’s newly acquired OneWeb system.

Spaceports have traditionally been used to launch spacecrafts into orbit by blasting huge heavy-lift vehicles off launch pads vertically, but experts at Cornwall Airport will instead send a modified Boeing 747 to 30,000 feet before the rocket is blasted in what is known as an air-launch. 

This can then deploy the payload – which plans to hold small satellites – into LEO.

And Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly local enterprise partnership Mark Duddridge says it has countless opportunities for the future.

The EU's Galileo project could be handed a blow

The EU’s Galileo project could be handed a blow (Image: GETTY)

Spaceport Cornwall is preparing for the UK's first horizontal launch

Spaceport Cornwall is preparing for the UK’s first horizontal launch (Image: SPACEPORT CORNWALL)

He told Express.co.uk: “We hope the spaceport will bring in other operators as well who will want to use the horizontal takeoff technology.

“The biggest market going forward will be small satellites for all sorts of reasons – environmental, military, you name it. 

“That is an opportunity for the UK, Cornwall will be the first European site for that and because of where we are the planes can fly towards the poles, off the equator, so people can deploy their satellites. 

“We will be a leader in learning how to do that, and the legislation and guidelines for how to do it safely.”

The UK has punched above its weight in the small satellite industry for years, but after Brexit there were concerns over how best to hold on to UK-based companies.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson’s ‘unique’ opportunity to woo Biden with ‘once in a lifetime’ space project

The Virgin Orbit project uses groundbreaking technology

The Virgin Orbit project uses groundbreaking technology (Image: GETTY)

Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee David Morris previously noted: “The UK needs to be much better at defending and retaining its space interests.”

The Government, seeking a replacement for the EU’s Galileo project that the UK has left, considered alternatives to an original plan to develop its own satellite constellation.

This has meant pursuing OneWeb – the LEO broadband constellation that the Government, along with Indian company Bharti Global, acquired from bankruptcy.

And Mr Duddridge, who is also the former Managing Director of Ginsters, says the technology – here on UK soil – will be revolutionary.

He added: “The deployment of small satellites is hugely important – all the information we have about our environment comes from those and the impact of launching things horizontally is much better that any other way.

DONT MISS
UK to launch own satellite with Space Command ‘to combat Russia threat [REVEALED]
Coronavirus: Psychological impact of mask-wearing [EXPOSED]
Boris Johnson’s plan to slash your energy bill by £750 [REVEALED]

Richard Branson has backed the project

Richard Branson has backed the project (Image: GETTY)

“For the next few years it is all going to be around launching small satellites, I think there is still a nervousness about putting tourists into space.”

And Mr Duddridge believes this presents a huge opportunity, with the project reportedly being more efficient than the EU decision to launch its last satellite from a vehicle launch pad at the Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana.

He continued: “We have been told that OneWeb, like many other things, requires lots of small satellites in relatively low orbit and that’s where the market is going. 

“So whether it is OneWeb, or anyone else – we have the cheapest and most effective method of doing that – the horizontal takeoff. 

“The industry, for the most part, seems to be heading that way more than the horizontal takeoffs.

“OneWeb is the kind of opportunity we would be looking to get behind, there are also other spin-offs too – unmanned aircrafts, UAV’s, there’s loads of potential.”

David Morris MP has backed OneWeb's capability

David Morris MP has backed OneWeb’s capability (Image: COMMONS)

OneWeb’s December’s launch saw 36 satellites blasted into space on a Soyuz rocket from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

Speaking to Express.co.uk exclusively, Mr Morris said the Government is now looking at options to launch OneWeb from UK soil 

He said the project will only strengthen the UK’s space portfolio.

Mr Morris added: “I don’t want to sound like a cheerleader for OneWeb, but it’s been bought by the Government and it’s an opportunity to show off what we do well.

“OneWeb was developed on British technology, the Americans did have a part to play, but they withdrew and it’s now owned substantially by us.

Galileo has been launched vertically previously

Galileo has been launched vertically previously (Image: GETTY)

“It’s attracting more money in investments than what we paid for – it’s already profitable.

“We are showing already that we are leading the way in LEO technology around the globe.

“It is actually a very big deal, and we are a big player now.”

OneWeb was designed as a broadband constellation first and foremost – it will provide rural 4G, and one day 5G, Internet signals across the nation.

It will operate in LEO, as opposed to the medium Earth orbits used by Galileo, GPS and other navigation systems traditionally launched using vehicle takeoffs. 

But while current plans will see OneWeb’s first run of satellites used for broadband,  it has been tipped for future developments that could include navigation capacity like Galileo.



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here