West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has welcomed the announcement of a £8.4 million investment in Goonhilly Earth Station, which will help create the world’s first commercial deep-space communications station.
The project, announced by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP),
will see Goonhilly upgraded to enable it to provide deep-space tracking and satellite communication services on a commercial basis and capable of tracking future missions to the Moon and Mars.
“I’d like to congratulate the team at Goonhilly and those at the LEP for all the hard work that has gone into securing this investment,” said Mr Thomas, who sits on the Science and Technology Select Committee and is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Space.
“Goonhilly Earth Station has established itself as one of the most strategically important sites in the world-wide space sector and has the potential to provide jobs not just at Goonhilly but across West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
“I’ve been able to introduce Goonhilly directors to a number of Ministers over the past couple years and they have all been impressed with the scope of the ambitions at Goonhilly and the skills and professionalism they bring to this very exciting sector.
“All of us rely on space technology in some way or another and Goonhilly Earth Station is now set to become a major player in this modern age.”
The £8.4 million contract is being funded through the LEP’s Growth Deal with the UK Government, via ESA.
The investment will see ESA working with Goonhilly to upgrade one of its largest antennas, the 32 m-diameter GHY-6 antenna built in 1985, to meet the performance and technology requirements needed by ESA, NASA and private space exploration companies for deep-space communications, including high bit-rate data links.
As well as taking on 18 new staff, the team at Goonhilly are expecting a significant upsurge in interest in the space sector in Cornwall.
A number of companies are now looking at the growing capability both at Goonhilly and Cornwall Airport Newquay, which are both part of the Aerohub Enterprise Zone offering 100% business rate relief.