Cornwall calls to not dismiss Richard Branson’s Virgin space tourism

Members of the public have called on Cornwall Council not to dismiss space tourism which they say could provide a boost to the economy and new opportunities.

Hundreds of people have responded with comments about the possibility of space tourism operating from the planned Spaceport Cornwall after the leader of Cornwall Council said this week that he would tell Sir Richard Branson that it would not be an option.

It came after councillors raised questions at this week’s full council meeting following reports in the national press that Sir Richard had hinted that his Virgin Galactic could follow Virgin Orbit in operating from Spaceport Cornwall.

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Virgin Orbit is a key partner in Spaceport Cornwall and is planning to launch from the spaceport in 2022 using its modified jumbo jet which launches small satellites into orbit.

However Virgin Galactic is working on another system which would enable space tourists to fly into orbit.

In a newspaper interview Sir Richard explained how he was looking forward to Virgin Orbit launching from Cornwall and hinted that Virgin Galactic could follow.

The Virgin entrepreneur also said that Virgin Orbit was planning to do something in Cornwall this summer to tie in with the G7 summit which is being held in Carbis Bay in June.

Some councillors urged the council’s Cabinet to make it clear that there are no plans for space tourism in Cornwall and one called for Sir Richard to be given that message.

John Fitter, councillor for St Mawgan and Colan, where Spaceport Cornwall is located, said: “If we were to entertain this it would be quite ridiculous and send out the wrong message to those people in Cornwall who could possibly be suffering on below the minimum wage and in poverty and allow people who have got vast millions of pounds to spend to up to space for half an hour and come back down again.

“It would send out the wrong message, Cornwall is not about that.”

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However, responding to the story many seemed to disagree and said that the council would be unwise to pass up such an opportunity without considering it in full.

Writing the comments on a local news website, one person said: “Now I actually know that this council is actually barking mad! No-one in their right mind would turn this opportunity down. The council are very narrow minded in their approach.

“To just think that with the right negotiation team in place Cornwall could and would be the world’s first in this field and would be setting the level. The kudos that it would bring would be amazing and would also bring many hi-tech engineering companies to the county.”

Another agreed: “Nobody in their right mind would turn this down… It’s exactly what Cornwall needs since Brexit, new investment, and yet the council seems to be turning this down time and time again; first with the planned flagship shops in Truro and now with the space tourism in Newquay.

“This isn’t a decision that someone with a genuine interest in the county moving forward would make, the council just wants to keep Cornwall in the past and the poor to stay that way.”

And a third claimed that the councillor was not reflecting the views of people in the county.

They said: “He does NOT speak for me, the business that I work for or the other businesses that we deal with.

“I work as part of the supply chain for Aviation (much of which is based in the South West). I would 100% welcome space tourism here in Cornwall. Space tourists will be most likely be high net worth individuals which will be a bonus for Newquay and the surrounding areas.”

Falmouth Packet | Truro