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5 things to look out for at Story of a Satellite, Spaceport Cornwall

A fascinating glimpse into Cornwall's space frontier at Spaceport Cornwall, this exhibition is perfect for space mad kids this summer.

Follow in the footsteps of Joe Biden and the other G7 world leaders and head to Spaceport Cornwall at Newquay Airport to check out the first of a trio of exhibitions to mark and highlight the potential of Cornwall’s space industry.

Back in March of this year I interviewed Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, for International Women’s Day and so I headed down to catch up with her and look around the new exhibition, ‘Story of a Satellite: journey of a UK satellite’ alongside my two testers (nine and five).

Here’s five highlights to look out for.

1/ Go airside at the airport

This interactive, bijou exhibition makes a great trip out, particularly if you’re based anywhere near Newquay. Just the location itself is thrilling, as not only do you have to park at the airport where you can see the planes and helicopters taking off and landing, but also then head ‘airside’ by booking your ticket and then gaining access to the other side of the fence!

2/ See real satellites

Once in the hangar it’s a one-way system past various exhibitions outlining the innovation underway, including the sustainable launch, efforts to clean up space debris and the new Kernow Sat 1 which will be the UK’s first community satellite at the first UK satellite launch, due in June 2022. There are also real satellites to look at (like the one above, mind boggling that this is real not sci-fi) and various businesses to engage with, including Goonhilly Earth Station and the UK Space Agency

3/ See the replica LauncherOne

The centre piece of the exhibition is the replica Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne, the very one that Biden and Co examined at G7 and which has real scorch marks from undergoing testing.

My kids were fascinated to hear about Cosmic Girl, the Virgin ex-passenger 747 jet which will carry the rocket (piloted by Kelly and three crew) which comes back down to land once the rocket has launched.

They were also fascinated to hear that the rocket boosters then kick in, which takes the rocket on into space, as well as where in the launcher the satellites sit – the front part, if you’re interested, which opens like a mouth to let them out once it reaches their final destination.

4/ Visit exoplanets

My kids voted this as their other highlight: the Virtual Reality experience from the University of Exeter. Donning VR headsets, you go with them on the search for future habitable planets, called exoplanets, which exist outside our current solar system, seeing stars, moons, fire, water and incredible alien landscapes.

5/ Learn about Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser is a sort of space shuttle, a US designed and tested multi-mission space utility vehicle (the SUV element fits well in Cornwall!) designed to transport both crew and cargo. It will launch vertically but land on a runway creating a sonic boom, and may come to Newquay when it is in action.


Don’t miss the exclusive merch for sale afterwards – my kids are very keen on the crew tees I bought them, and loved the activity books. Something to keep them occupied for another hour or so!

The ‘Story of a Satellite’ exhibition is open for the remainder of the school holidays, booking essential, before it opens up to school groups in September.

Cornwall Airport Newquay
Hangar NH2 CP2
(between East Car Park and P3)
St Mawgan, Newquay

Note: Park in East Car Park or P3 and pay on exit for parking. Head to the hangar and ring the bell attached to the fence, and you’ll be directed to the relevant gate to be escorted to the exhibition hangar. Allow an hour for the exhibition itself, plus parking time.

Parts two and three will be at The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro and The Eden Project, later this year and next.

Find more ideas here

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