The first space satellite launched from Newquay by Virgin Orbit will have a Cornish name

The first satellite to be launched into space from Newquay will be Cornish, Virgin Orbit has promised.

Kernow Sat 1 could be launched from Cornwall Newquay Airport within the next 12-18 months with the aim of carrying out earth sciences such as measuring ocean plastic pollution or mapping tree planting and deforestation or coastal erosion.

William Pomerantz, vice president of special projects at Virgin Orbit, said bringing Virgin Orbit to Cornwall was to bring satellite launch capabilities to parts of the world where they don’t exist.

Mr Pomerantz said Newquay and Cornwall were an obvious choice for the company as the UK already has a strong small satellite manufacturing industry, but had to rely on its EU membership to launch its satellites from Kourou in French Guiana.

“When you offer this local opportunity to a local community, it brings many community, scientific and business benefits to the region,” he said. create tailor-made applications adapted to local needs.

He added: “Kernow Sat could be in a year. We did our first test launch of Virgin Orbit in California earlier this year and now we want to do the same in the UK and Cornwall in particular. “

Mr Pomerantz insisted that Kernow Sat 1 would be designed by scientists and researchers from universities in the Duchy, with input from local schoolchildren, students and businesses specializing in ocean health and science. earth, with an emphasis on scientific data instruments installed aboard Kernow Sat 1.

“Ocean plastic pollution or coastal erosion are issues that are dear to everyone in Cornwall. Everyone here is an environmentalist. It is part of the fiber of the Cornish people. People are informed, passionate about these issues for reasons of the heart or for business reasons. It is the engine of their pride, of their creativity.

He said data from Kernow Sat 1 would be used to solve local environmental issues and serve as a good practice example for other parts of the UK, Europe and the world, while fostering a space industry to Cornwall, around Newquay and Goonhilly Aerohub. Earth station on the Lizard.

Meanwhile, a full-scale launcher – similar to the one used by Virgin Orbit to send small satellites into orbit from underneath the wing of a custom Boeing 747, is in situ at Cornwall Newquay Airport where it will remain in place for several months in an effort to encourage local schools to visit and be inspired by it.

During a visit to Newquay Airport ahead of the G7 summit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said government funding would be used for research, design and construction of Kernow Sat 1.

The research will be undertaken by the University of Exeter who will lead a think tank with experts in the marine field to establish the exact data requirements to effectively research and implement activities surrounding Cornwall’s coastal health and l associated economy.

Construction will be undertaken in conjunction with Oregon State University’s Open Source CubeSat and KISPE Space, who will share their expertise and knowledge with the Spaceport Cornwall outreach team. The team will work alongside Truro and Penwith College, using their new space technology training program to build the Kernow Sat 1 in Cornwall.

Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, welcomed the news, saying: “We are delighted that this payload can be part of the first launch from Spaceport Cornwall. Engaging with the community and protecting the environment through Earth observation are integral to Spaceport’s mission and we hope to create a framework for community launches, helping to influence local politics through fundraising. key data.

Ian Annett, Deputy Director General of the UK Space Agency, added: “Space technology is at the heart of national and global efforts to understand and minimize the effects of climate change. From next year, small satellites such as Kernow Sat 1 will be launched from UK space ports and will play a vital role in continuing UK efforts to protect our environment and rebuild greener after the pandemic.

“Kernow Sat 1 is an extremely exciting project. This will not only help improve the environment, but also inspire communities on the importance of space, demonstrate strong UK academic interest and illustrate how space is becoming increasingly accessible to help shape a better future. for everyone.

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