Cornwall Expects Big — Maybe Too Big — Things From Newquay Spaceport

There’s some news from Cornwall on the spaceport front:

Cornwall Council has admitted that it is ‘anticipating a positive announcement’ on the bid to have the UK’s first spaceport in Newquay bringing thousands of new jobs and an £1bn a year into the local economy.

Newquay is among eight UK sites vying to become the first spaceport in Europe as the Government aims to meet the growing interest in space tourism.

The Government is expected to announce the location of the spaceport at the Farnborough Air Show which starts on July 16.

If successful, horizontal rocket launches could take place from Newquay , which has one of the longest runways in the country, to see small size satellites put into orbit. The space sector could be worth more than £1 billion by 2030, which is more than 10 per cent of the current economy.

Editor’s Note:  It looks like somebody’s got spaceport fever. Also known as Richardson Syndrome, it is a very serious condition that leads people to do and say all sorts of crazy (and often expensive) things. The only cure for that is reviewing the history of commercial spaceports. Preferable with a couple of pints on hand, which you’ll need once you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into.

I’ve lived for six years near Mojave spaceport, which hasn’t seen a spaceflight in almost 14 years.  Small rocket launches aside, Spaceport America has stayed largely idle since they dedicated the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space way back in 2011. (You don’t need to spend $225 million to launch sounding rockets.) Midland’s spaceport dreams expired when XCOR and Orbital outfitters did. Burns Flat in Oklahoma never saw a launch. Florida’s Cecil Airport is still waiting for its first spaceflight.

Maybe things will be different in Cornwall. Maybe they’ll catch a wave. Maybe the timing is finally right. I don’t know. You never say never in this business.

It’s great that they’re willing to pursue this, but they need to manage expectations. And not go giving things away on sketchy promises. One thing that helps is Newquay won’t be dependent on its space business. It’s not like they’re building a spaceport in suburban nowhere and waiting on something that is always 12 to 18 months away.

OK Governor Proposes Cutting Spaceport Authority Budget

The Associated Press reports from Oklahoma City on some aerospace legislation:

New Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill on Monday designed to lure more aerospace companies to Oklahoma by offering tax credits for salaries paid to qualified engineers.

The measure, which is projected to cost the state nearly $6 million in its first year, allows companies to be reimbursed up to 10 percent of the salary paid to qualified engineers for up to five years if the engineer graduated from a university in Oklahoma. The reimbursement is 5 percent if the engineer graduated from a school outside of the state.

The measure also provides a tax credit for 50 percent of the tuition cost of an employee who attends a qualified engineering program at a public institution in Oklahoma.

Fallin, meanwhile, has proposed eliminating about $424,000 in state funding for the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, a state agency created to help develop a spaceport facility, launch systems and other space-industry projects at Burns Flat, a licensed spaceport in western Oklahoma. Fallin said Monday that while she supports the agency’s mission, she believes it would be more efficient to merge the operations with the Department of Commerce or the Aeronautics Commission.

“I’m actually working with our legislators and Department of Commerce on further continuing to market that facility, but yet also trying to figure out how we can have shared resources as it relates to the aerospace industry and especially (the Space Industry Development Authority),” Fallin said.

Read the full story.