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Kate Kennally and Professor Lisa Roberts

Exeter signs MoU to boost collaboration on Spaceport Cornwall

A strategic partnership, designed to help place Cornwall at the forefront of British science and innovation in space, has received a significant boost. 

The University of Exeter and Cornwall Council have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their collaboration on Spaceport Cornwall – due to be the site of the UK’s first satellite launch this year. 

The newly-signed MoU will commit the University and the Council to work on a wide range of key objectives related to Spaceport Cornwall, as well as new skills and education opportunities for local communities. 

The MoU was signed by the University and the Council at a recent ceremony, and will be marked by a special event on Tuesday, May 17th 2022. 

One of the key objectives of the MoU is to establish Spaceport Cornwall’s reputation as the most responsible satellite launch site in the UK, with the ambition of being the first “net-zero” launch site.  

The University has already played an integral role in in supporting this ambition. Professor Xiaoyu Yan’s initial assessment of the carbon impact of the spaceport was relatively low - between 0.04% - 0.1 per cent of Cornwall’s total carbon footprint – and he will continue to lead more research as part of the ongoing Sustainability Steering Group. 

It will also offer greater support to the ‘Kernow Sat 1’  research programme – which will see the satellite monitor and provide data on Cornwall's marine health and the Blue Economy, and also engage audiences across Cornwall including local businesses, charities and school children. 

The University and Council will also work together to develop space and satellite skills and education programmes, for people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to participate in. 

The MoU will also see the University and Council collaborate on the vision for Spaceport Cornwall’s Centre for Space Technologies (CST). 

The aim of the CST is to offer unparalleled access to a unique space-focused environment, where innovative SMEs and academia will collaborate with some of the world’s largest satellite launch, construction, technology, materials, communications and data companies on the development of new products and services for the space sector. 

Speaking at the signing of the MoU, Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter said: “I am delighted that the University of Exeter has signed this Memorandum of Understanding with our partners at Cornwall Council, to build a strong future for Spaceport Cornwall.  

“Our mission here at the University of Exeter is to demonstrate how, together, we create the possible and make a difference to the people, communities, partners and world around us.  

“Spaceport Cornwall is an unique example of how we can, working together, defy conventional boundaries and be at the forefront of science and innovation here in the South West.  It is also another boost to helping the region to revolutionise businesses, jobs and skills for the future.” 

Kate Kennally, Chief Executive of Cornwall Council added: “Cornwall Council is proud to be partnering with the University of Exeter as our academic partner for Spaceport Cornwall.  Matching the University’s climate expertise with Spaceport Cornwall’s ambitions of being the world’s first net-zero spaceport will positively benefit both space, and Earth.” 

Date: 16 May 2022