The search is on for a local supply chain to support the proposed space launch industry in Cornwall.

Earlier this week, Britain and the US signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement, which will make it easier to bring rocket hardware into the UK.

Following this, Spaceport Cornwall along with California-based Virgin Orbit, which wants to run its horizontal launch system out of Newquay, hosted an online supplier event, with information about the programme’s goals and requirements.

The webinar had over 100 companies register their interest as supply chain businesses and tune in to watch live. During the session, the UK Space Agency provided an overview of the Spaceport Launch Programme, and Virgin Orbit gave a supply chain update. This was then followed by Spaceport Cornwall outlining its needs within the Transportable Ground Operation System, with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP defining the Local Industrial Strategy.

AeroSpace Cornwall – an EU-funded programme which supports R&D in the space and aerospace sectors – introduced the wider Cornwall supply chain and the availability of business support on offer. Gail Eastaugh, head of AeroSpace Cornwall, spoke of the opportunities available via grants and specialist business support.

Post-event, companies are able to register to be part of the online supply chain portal, which will continue to have new information, spotlight opportunities and future events.

Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for transport, said: “The announcement that the UK and US governments have signed this agreement is further proof of the confidence we have that this is the time to start and grow a space business that will be for the economic benefit of the people of Cornwall.

“Making sure that suppliers and businesses in Cornwall have the opportunity to be part of that is hugely important. We are on course to realise the economic growth that a Spaceport can deliver and reap the benefits for Cornwall of the continued rapid growth of the international space sector.”

LEP chief executive, Glenn Caplin-Grey, added: “It’s important that local businesses have the opportunity to supply Virgin Orbit and Spaceport Cornwall so the economic benefits of satellite launches from Cornwall are felt in the local economy.

“This was a great way to start that supply chain process and we hope many more businesses will register their interest.”

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