Space Systems Integration Facility

Cornwall Airport Newquay
Willmott Dixon
Cormac Solutions
Shell: December 2021, Fitout: May 2022
  • Shortlisted

    Project of the Year (over £5 million)

    Michelmores Property Awards 2024

A world-class facility, and the first of its kind in the UK, that will help to deliver a more sustainable future for satellite launch.

We worked with Willmott Dixon and Craddys, on behalf of Corserv Group, Cornwall Development Company and Cornwall Airport Newquay, to deliver a new home for Spaceport Cornwall.

The Space Systems Integration Facility is the first of its kind in the UK and paves the way for Cornwall to become the home of horizontal space launch in Europe.

Our brief was to design a cost-effective, simple building to facilitate the integration of satellites and other payloads into rockets.

The building, which measures 75m x 23m and 12.5m high at the ridge, required very large hangar doors at the eastern end to allow the rocket to be wheeled in and out of the building on a ‘skid’. The skid required very level surfaces and flush thresholds to allow it to move the fragile cargo with minimal disturbance.

Satellites are prepared in the western end of the building in a clean room environment before moving into the eastern end to be attached to a rocket using an inbuilt craning system.

The rocket is then wheeled outside and attached to the underside of a modified Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 aircraft named Cosmic Girl.

The aircraft is taxied to the runway, takes off and flies to 35,000ft before releasing the rocket. The plane returns to the spaceport whilst the rocket ignites its engine to take the satellites into orbit.

This type of horizontal launch, which reduces fuel consumption as well as non-reusable parts of the launch process, is far more sustainable than vertical launch, and will therefore support Spaceport Cornwall’s aim to be the first spaceport globally to reach Net Zero.

We were delighted to be selected to deliver this project. The alternative to vertical launch is a more sustainable approach and we are excited by Spaceport Cornwall’s vision to deliver a more responsible way of accessing space. The project brings a valuable new employer to Cornwall, offering highly skilled technical career opportunities and a fantastic out-reach programme to local schools, plus benefits in potential growth of the airport and aerohub and wider local economy.

Carl Harding, Divisional Director & Project Lead, Stride Treglown

In January 2023, Spaceport Cornwall is set to make history by launching the first satellites into space from UK soil.

Image 1 Ⓒ Virgin Orbit / Images 2 + 3 Ⓒ Spaceport Cornwall / Images 4-7 Ⓒ Tom Bright