Cornish firm helps to deliver the UK’s first space launch facility

Cornish firm helps to deliver the UK’s first space launch facility

MWJV, a Cornish construction services consultancy, has been supporting the build of Spaceport Cornwall, which launched its first mission on Monday 9 January.

The company has been managing the construction of the spaceport facilities at Cornwall Airport Newquay, which first began in January 2022. Spaceport Cornwall is the first place in the UK to offer space launch capabilities.

Roger Hannaford, Financial Director at MWJV, said: “We’ve been working closely with Spaceport Cornwall and the contractors to ensure the project is delivered on time, on budget and to the highest possible standard. Our work has included project management, quantity surveying, health & safety management and the appointment of a NEC Supervisor.

“Working on Spaceport has been a fantastic opportunity and we’re now looking forward to finalising the project and celebrating its many future successful launches. It’s great to see such an innovative and nationally significant project come to life here in Cornwall.”

The spaceport project includes the construction of two new buildings and supporting infrastructure. The Space Systems Integration Facility (SSIF) was completed in September and is now occupied by one of Spaceport Cornwall’s customers, Virgin Orbit. The SSIF is where the rockets are assembled and includes a large cleanroom, crane, and airlock for satellite integration activities, as well as welfare facilities, meeting rooms, and a large final assembly area.

The second building, the Space Systems Operations Facility (SSOF), will be multi-purpose and is where on-site mission control will be based. The SSOF is currently being fitted out and is set to be completed by the end of March.

Construction has been carried out by two main contractors, each with a supply chain of subcontractors. The principal contractors are Kier, which has led the general construction, and specialist firm Bassaire, which has headed up the cleanroom elements.

MWJV Senior Project Manager Phil Knight said: “The project has been an interesting challenge for us to manage the delivery of the construction phase in readiness for Spaceport Cornwall’s first customer. The project has involved a complex supply chain comprising a multitude of specialist contractors required for the Space Systems Integration Facility fit out and supporting infrastructure.”

The project also involves the installation of specialist equipment, including a shipping container-sized frequency converter, groundworks for access and car parking, and a rooftop solar array to help meet the building’s sustainability requirements for its BREEAM certification.

Commenting, Ross Hulbert, Business Development Manager at Spaceport Cornwall said: “MWJV provided an excellent service in managing the delivery of these complex buildings. These facilities are key to attracting a sustainable space industry cluster on-site, bringing jobs and building local skills. We are also excited that we are providing great opportunities for local businesses, like MWJV, to expand their capabilities into the space industry.”

The spaceport is the first of its kind in the UK, allowing for horizontal launches of satellites with a modified Boeing 747 and detachable wing-mounted rocket. Previously, satellite manufacturers had to take their products to other countries for launch.

For more information on MWJV, visit the website here:

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