Well, here's something we bet you thought you'd ever read. A spaceport (yep) is planned for Newquay, aka the UK's surfing capital, that in the future, could see aircraft fly to Australia in just 90 minutes.
So far, the plan for the Spaceport is to launch small, data-collecting satellites into orbit. But the European Space Agency has confirmed it is drawing up rules that could allow a company to come in and operate sub-orbital flights, manage space tourism and passenger flights from the port. According to British astronaut Tim Peake: “What might be perceived as an expensive folly today actually can in future become a very efficient means of transportation. If you extend Virgin Galactic’s principle and improve vehicles, you could do London to Sydney in 90 minutes. It’s a very exciting time right now. Space tourism can come under some criticism as a sport for the rich but that’s how a lot of things start, that’s how aviation started."
Forecast: Snapper Rocks
The Spaceport is planned for Newquay Airport because it already has state-of-the-art foundations. A rocket propulsion test facility, hanger facilities, fuel handling control, mission control and an innovation centre are also planned for the site.
And doesn't that just sound perfect? Can you imagine? From Fistral (or, well, Watergate as it's closest to the airport) to pumping Snapper Rocks, though that's a hell of a drive from Sydney, maybe Manly, Bondi etc wherever the swell is, at the drop of a hat? Likely for a fair bit of coin, mind.
“For Britain to be the first spaceport in Europe to be able to offer that service because we have the legislation in place, because we’ve sorted out our infrastructure, that will be huge,” said Tim Peake.
Also, Cornwall Council and the UK government are prepped to invest up to £20 million into the Spaceport to make it a home for Virgin Orbit, which is the satellite launch system being developed by Richard Branson. The system will send rockets to space from under the wing of a Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet, with a few modifications of course.
Now, the implications here are huge for the UK. The ability to launch small satellites into space could provide a whole load of data, about storms, hurricanes...the scope is crazy.
Plans for a Spaceport in Cornwall have been around for years, but took a leap forward after the UK Space Agency recently began drafting regulations to allow human launches from the port in Newquay and the Scottish Highlands.
Of course, it's all speculative at the moment. But, let's imagine a summer in the UK, waves are lacklustre, especially as Europe's going through a surf drought right now. Hop a flight and you're in the southern hemi, which is swell season for the folks on that side of the globe. The implications of space tourism are speculative, but possible, at the moment. But, by 2021, when the spaceport is planned to open, we'll have more of an idea about where this is all heading.