The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is leading a delegation to North America in support of its bid to establish a spaceport at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

The six-strong team flew out of Heathrow to Los Angeles yesterday (October 1) for a series of meetings with potential investors, returning on Friday.

Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The LEP is leading a trade delegation to North America in support of our spaceport bid and will be meeting a range of potential investors.

“We are in a global race for investment in a commercial spaceflight market that could be worth £25 billion over the next 20 years.

“This mission signals the seriousness of our intent to establish a spaceport at Newquay because it could be a game changer for our economy and spawn a new industry that puts Cornwall at the centre of commercial spaceflight for generations to come.”

The LEP is leading Cornwall’s bid to establish Spaceport Cornwall across two sites at Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Earth Station. Together they offer a combination of horizontal launch, monitoring and tracking facilities.

The trade delegation includes LEP board members from both the public and private sector and is made up of the following:

  • Sandra Rothwell, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Gavin Poole , LEP private sector board member and chairman of the Spaceport Steering Group
  • Adam Paynter, LEP public sector board member and Leader of Cornwall Council
  • Phil Seeva, LEP public sector board member and Leader of the Conservative Group on Cornwall Council
  • Miles Carden, Aerohub Enterprise Zone manager and spaceport lead at Cornwall Airport Newquay
  • Ross Hulbert, space and aerospace business engagement manager at Invest in Cornwall

The £30k cost of the trip, which includes travel from Cornwall to London, flights to the US, internal flights while there and all accommodation, is being met by the LEP which is core funded by central Government to promote economic development and job creation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.


  1. Kevin that is not accurate. As I have said before we have significant evidence to believe that the opportunity presented by a Spaceport in Cornwall is one worth pursuing. However at this stage much of that evidence is commercially sensitive. We have to have a robust basis for the investment in Spaceport and we are working with private investors and launch providers to build this case. This is a public private initiative to deliver UK launch capability in Cornwall. Not a build it and they will come speculative approach. This is a massive opportunity I am not willing to let slip from Cornwall’s grasp but we will only invest if the business case is sound.

    • Hi Miles

      You have said you have significant evidence, but not revealed anything that would give anyone outside your group confidence. I have contacts in the industry who believe that the UK government have been misguided by those with a vested interest, as to the demand and viability of a UK spaceport. There are independent people in the industry, who think at a UK level this is a vanity project.

      It is interesting that the group chosen to head this for Cornwall have virtually no experience of the industry.

      It seems without doubt that the current UK government intend to put some funds into this project, (unless they change their minds, or a new government is voted in) but whether the winner of a bid will have a sustainable economic benefit from it or a poisoned chalice, remains to be seen. I think politics will also have a significant influence in where that money is finally directed and I would not be surprised, given the recent industry news and political landscape, if a deal has been done behind closed doors already.

      If you are in possession of commercially sensitive information, that would overcome my scepticism and proves to make this a huge success for Cornwall, great. But you cannot blame me and others for commenting in the way we do, when there is so little in the public arena to back up your enthusiasm and claims of billions of pounds coming to Cornwall if you win the bid. Frankly we have heard lots of these sort of claims before about the “Future Economy” of Cornwall.

      I wish you well with it and hope my scepticism is misplaced.


  2. You only have to think about how motorists rely on satnav and runners and cyclists log their training using GPS technology to realise space is big business. Add to that satellite broadband for rural areas hard to reach by traditional cable and as yet unthought of applications and you realise it is vital that Cornwall is involve. There are many small business ready and able to take advantage of the opportunities that a spaceport will bring. We have the necessary assets, Newquay Airport and Goonhilly we need the Council, the LEP and the business community to work together to make this happen. The cost of the trip is money well spent.

    • It would be great if it is viable for Cornwall to compete in this highly competitive world wide market.

      The only evidence provided to me was about the demand for “cheap” satellite launches, to compete with the likes of India and China. There was no evidence of demand for a value proposition. Everything was about price. Not sure that Cornwall could or should seek to compete on price with those established in this technology.

      Not negative about it, just realistic.

      • Hopefully the delegation will come back with information and an understanding of the opportunities. Cornwall has a good history of innovation, although the subsequent development has tended to go out of county and out of the country. There is the northern power house and the midlands engine room, Cornwall can be the innovation centre of the UK.

  3. Is this just another “Pie in the Sky” idea?

    I asked Miles Carden recently for the research that backed up the wild claims and projected demand for the spaceport. He could only provide me with an article written by a company with huge vested interest. That is apparently the extent of their market research. It would be great if this could spawn a new viable industry for Cornwall, but I have significant doubts.

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