In mid-September, 11 members of South Hill WI (and one brave husband) visited Spaceport Cornwall at Newquay Airport on the north coast of Cornwall.
The members discovered that the spaceport should be coming into use in 2022 and is intended to be a design centre and launching point of commercial satellites for a variety of purposes.
Companies intending to use the service include one which will operate communications aimed at giving access to areas of the world where 3G and 4G signals do not exist, e.g., Africa. Another company will use the spaceport for the launch of satellites to provide ground observation for agricultural and geological surveys. Also interested is a company which intends to offer a clean-up service to remove orbiting space junk!
In pride of place the women were shown the mock-up of Virgin Orbit Launcher One rocket which will be used to launch the satellites from the spaceport at Newquay. The rocket is intended to be launched horizontally from the underside of a plane.
The visit was capped off with a virtual reality headset experience compiled and produced by Exeter University. It involved exoplanets that have been identified outside our solar system and the conditions that are likely to be found there.
As a first WI excursion after lockdown it generated an out-of-this-world experience never to be forgotten. Many thanks to Ross Hulbert, the Spaceport’s Business Development Manager who answered all the members’ questions and explained the exhibits.