Planned spaceports in Cornwall, Sutherland and Glasgow are to receive a total of £117.3m in public funding

SpaceX rocket launch

Three planned spaceports in Cornwall and Scotland could contribute up to £1.407bn to the economy if the wider spillover effects are taken into account, new research shows.

Anaylsis carried out by local holiday cottages provider Stay in Cornwall reveals that the planned spaceport in Newquay could provide £80m to the UK economy, based on the average return of £4 per £1 of public investment into the project.

Space Hub Sutherland could bring in £69.2m with the same return on investment applied, while Glasgow Spaceport could return a staggering £320m, based on the £80m in funding provided for Prestwick Airport.

The research finds that public investments in space produce higher returns on average than typical innovation investments. For earth observation applications, £1 of investment provides an average direct return of £2-£4, while telecoms brings £6-£7 and navigation returns £4-£5.

The Spaceport Case File collates official reports to reveal the potential economic, environmental and academic impact of Spaceport Cornwall, whereby the site will play a crucial role in supporting the UK’s satellite launches.

This potential return on investment could be even higher if the UK maintains its membership with the European Space Agency, which brings £3-£4 of direct return per £1 of funding. In 2018, European Union-funded programmes accounted for £372m – equivalent to 2.5% of total industry income.

With a reported seven sites pursuing spaceport status in the UK in Scotland, Wales and England, the return on global small launch investment could be as high as £1.784bn if the remaining five sites receive the same funding as Sutherland.

Commenting on the results, Shannon Keary, Communications Manager of Stay in Cornwall said: “As a holiday provider for the local area, we feel that Spaceport Cornwall is an extremely interesting and unique point of interest for people looking to visit Newquay and the surrounding areas.

“Our findings show the many benefits that the spaceport will have on both the local community and for the UK’s economy as a whole. This includes how the spaceport is expected to support the UK’s government plans to capitalise on the predicted £10bn global launch market, as well as its huge potential for return on investment when it comes to potential tourism, research capabilities and employment.”