Plans to establish a thriving space industry in Cornwall took another step forward today.

Orbital Access Limited (OAL), a UK-based launch systems and aerospace services business, and Spaceport Cornwall announced details of a partnership, at the UK Space Conference 2017 in Manchester.

The aim of the partnership is to collaborate in the development of Spaceport Cornwall and to establish OAL as a principal operator. Spaceport Cornwall comprises Cornwall Airport Newquay, Goonhilly Earth Station and the wider space and aerospace supply chain in Cornwall.

The collaboration is also part of a bid for a grant from the UK Space Agency to establish cost effective end-to-end launch services from an operational UK spaceport by 2020, as set out in the draft UK Spaceflight Bill.

OAL has also confirmed that it plans to open a new office at Goonhilly later this year.

With an estimated economic value of more than £5.9 billion by 2030, the UK spaceport and launcher project will contribute significantly to the UK’s space industry, provide new jobs and technologies and inspire and promote science, engineering, research and innovations to the next generation.

It will create a space cluster for the fast growing small satellite industry, harnessing existing entities – such as Goonhilly Earth Station – and a wide range of new UK aerospace companies, academic institutions and specialist contractors.

Stuart McIntyre, chief executive officer, OAL said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Spaceport Cornwall and the local space community as the project develops.

“The location is ideal for our Orbital 500R air-launched payload system, which is a horizontal take-off and landing vehicle designed to carry small satellites into low earth orbit. Under the partnership with Spaceport Cornwall we will also open a new office at Goonhilly Earth Station very soon to continue developing our space related services. Ultimately, we will be able to offer cost effective launch services from UK spaceports as well as similar facilities anywhere in the world.”

Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, which is leading the Spaceport Cornwall project, added: “We’re delighted to welcome such a high profile Spaceport Cornwall partner and look forward to Orbital Access opening an office at Goonhilly.

Our ambition is to develop a thriving space industry in Cornwall using our existing world-class assets to provide low cost access to space. Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly are both within our Aerohub Enterprise Zone which means we can offer a suite of incentives to inward investors, unlocking further investment into business, science, skills and future space and satellite technologies in Cornwall.”

The Government has invited joint bids from potential spaceport launch sites and space vehicle system operators to establish the UK’s first commercial spaceport by 2020. An announcement of successful bids is expected later this summer.