Spaceport Cornwall signifies lift-off for new environmental and educational opportunities

The potentially stratospheric economic benefits of entering the UK’s £15bn space industry has been one of the defining narratives orbiting Spaceport Cornwall since its foundation. But the environmental and educational implications of the facility promise to be no less profound.

From new courses focused on space technology and satellites, to a low-carbon commitment within the operations of the spaceport itself, there is a growing sense of a region pulling together to capitalise upon Spaceport Cornwall’s vision for a more sustainable and civically engaged sector.

“Since our inception, we have interacted with 50,000 school pupils,” says Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, reflecting on the public engagement programme thus far. “We have a fantastic opportunity to both raise awareness of the environmental monitoring role that satellites play and inspire young people to consider STEM-based subjects and careers.”

It’s an opportunity already being realised in the Duchy. Truro and Penwith College, for example, recently unveiled the world’s first HNC/HND in Space Technologies, co-developed with Pearson Education, and aligned to its partnership in the Cornwall Space and Aerospace Technology Training (CSATT) programme. In addition to this, the University of Exeter, another CSATT partner, is developing a new Masters degree for 2023 focused on satellite applications.

“It’s vital that we offer educational pathways into the sector for aspiring engineers and technologists, as well as support the professional development of those already working in the supply chain,” says Louise Osborne, Head of Innovation, Impact and Business at the University of Exeter, Cornwall. “Together, we can nurture the knowledge economy that Spaceport Cornwall needs for the future.”

The University has also supported Spaceport Cornwall with a carbon life cycle analysis that reveals, among other things, that each launch will add less than 0.07% to the Duchy’s overall emissions. With its forthcoming Road to Net Zero report due imminently, and the environmental research potential offered by Kernow Sat 1, this focus upon sustainability in all its guises is set to gather velocity.