Issue #4(22) 2019 Opinion

Climate change and spaceports – a difficult balance

The runway at Cornwall Spaceport.
The runway at Cornwall Spaceport.
Mark Godsell MDG Promotions, Cornwall, UK

Spaceports are becoming part of the NewSpace industry around the world, but some people worried about climate change have suggested they could damage the atmosphere and detrimentally affect the climate. In the UK, this has become a ‘local issue’ in some of the communities proposing spaceports, such as the one in Cornwall. Here, Mark Godsell wrestles with opposing views and strives to find a balance.

I have supported the idea of a UK horizontal launch spaceport since it was first proposed in 2014. Others do not. One of their questions is: “if I accept climate change needs action now, how can I support UK spaceports, in particular the horizontal launch variety requiring large vehicles and accompanying support flights?”. The simple answer is that I believe the positives outweigh the negatives.

I left engineering because of the limited options in the county of Cornwall whilst other contemporaries of mine reluctantly left the county, even the country, to pursue their engineering careers. For me, giving Cornwall the opportunity to develop a high-tech industry and reducing its dependency on seasonal tourism is an opportunity to embrace. While I cannot be absolutely sure the spaceport can deliver the benefits it promises, I can be sure that there is no chance if we do not try.

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