When thinking about topics of innovation, does any topic encapsulate the principles of innovation more so than space? Everything to do with space, spacecraft and space travel oozes high-level science, research and technology. Afterall, these are all aspects commonly associated with innovation. So when Acceleration Through Innovation spotted Miles Carden’s talk, ‘Spaceport: Developing a UK Horizontal Launch Capability in Cornwall’, on the Newquay Business Week itinerary, we knew this was one session we couldn’t miss.
Carden, Director of Spaceport Cornwall, is leading an ambitious mission to put Cornwall on the Global space map. The ambition, well, it’s as simple as this:
“one day you can go to London and one day you can go to Space”
he says. For the majority of us, Spaceport Cornwall’s aim may seem like ‘sci-fi movie stuff’, but new developments in Newquay could see space launches happening far sooner than you might think.
But how? I hear you say. As it turns out, a combination of growing demand for small satellite launch, a lack of European Spaceports and the unique geographical location of Newquay makes Cornwall Airport Newquay the ideal place for “horizontal launch”. In laymen’s terms, horizontal launch is where a modified Boeing 737 (with a reinforced wing and rocket attached) is flown a safe distance from the airport and launches satellites into space, over sea and at altitude.
According to Carden, important assets such as Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station make Cornwall uniquely equipped to be able to service the growing demand for satellite launch:
“Markets are changing, meaning demands for launch are changing and making locations, such as Newquay, a credible place to launch”.
Major players in the space market seem to agree with him. Spaceport Cornwall recently announced partnership with Virgin Orbit, meaning the ambition to launch from Cornwall into Space is drifting ever closer into the realms of reality. Whilst the Director of Spaceport Cornwall is currently talking about the possibility of organisations paying to launch new satellites into space for research and communications purposes, it is this new technology that could provide the necessary knowledge leading onto the space planes and space tourists of the future!
So what innovative lessons can we take away from Carden’s inspiring presentation? Well, Spaceport Cornwall is a masterclass in the importance of observation. Businesses need to be able to observe changes in the market and identify emerging commercial opportunities. Being able to monopolise on those opportunities, at the right time, is equally as important. Identifying change as an opportunity and spotting the commercial application of new technologies are all vital lessons in innovation. No matter what sector and industry you’re in, it’s these lessons that many businesses can apply right here on solid ground.