The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) today confirmed talks with four potential spaceport partners as it prepares to capture a share of the £25 billion global spaceflight launch market.

The UK Government is inviting joint bids from potential Spaceport launch sites and space vehicle system operators to establish the UK’s first commercial Spaceport by 2020.

Up to £10 million is available to make the UK the first place in Europe where commercial space operators can launch small satellites into orbit and offer spaceplane flights for science and tourism.

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

The bid will outline why Cornwall is “perfectly placed” to maximise the potential from the fast growing global small satellite launch market, and spaceplane development.

Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, said: “Our aim is to create a high value space cluster around our Aerohub Enterprise Zone sites at Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Earth Station.

“We are the only site able to offer low cost access to space by horizontal launched systems in the UK by 2020, with a complete end-to-end launch and tracking capability that will be internationally competitive. With the right support, working with industry and other LEPs, we are offering an operational spaceport to the UK Space Agency in the next three years, delivering a key part of the Government’s national space policy and Industrial Strategy ambitions.”

Cornwall’s bid will be seeking up to £10 million of investment to upgrade facilities at Cornwall Airport Newquay to make Spaceport Cornwall a reality. This would include a Spaceplane Systems Integration Facility comprising a hangar and clean rooms to cater for satellite and future flight technologies.

The bid is being co-ordinated by Aerohub Enterprise Zone manager, Miles Carden, at Cornwall Airport Newquay, who said: “The combination of Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly is very attractive to space vehicle operators which is why there is international interest in being part of our Spaceport Cornwall bid.

“We’re building on our existing assets to offer a complete and competitive launch solution for the commercial space industry, providing low cost access to space in an industry that is expected to be worth £25 billion by 2020.”

The LEP has already submitted a formal expression of interest to Government and the full Spaceport Cornwall bid will be made by the April 28 deadline. An announcement of successful bids is expected in the summer. This will be followed by a spaceport licence application under the Government’s Spaceflight Bill, which sets out how the Government plans to regulate spaceflight activities from UK spaceports.