Marex adds safety expertise to first UK space launch

Cosmic Girl at Cornwall Airport in Newquay (Photo: Oliver Turrell)

AN ABERDEEN-based risk management specialist is playing its part in the UK’s first horizontal space launch.

Marex carried out the hazard identification work at Spaceport Cornwall ahead of the first launch from the UK, which is expected later this year.

Working with Wales-based B2SPACE – under contract to Cornwall Council who own both Cornwall Airport Newquay and Spaceport Cornwall – they completed a comprehensive on-site hazard identification (HAZID) review for the spaceport to gain its safety case approval.

The work by Marex systematically identified all reasonably foreseeable and significant hazards that may affect or arise from operations, using the knowledge and expertise the company has gained from 25 years of assessing hazardous offshore environments. 

They have also been working on other spaceport projects in this fledgling UK industry, including sites in Scotland. Most recently, they have been examining fire and explosion hazards associated with operations at a space launch site in Sutherland.

Wayne Henderson, Marex’s managing director, said: “Managing risk is an important factor in so many industries. This is what lets businesses innovate and excel as safely as possible in challenging environments.

“It is great to see the years of risk advisory expertise earned in the energy industry being used by the space sector, and acknowledged as so important for the sector’s safety compliance and growth.

“Diversification is a hot topic in our region, and although Aberdeen and Cornwall are geographically far apart, the priorities and issues in supporting safe and efficient operations in hazardous environments are very closely aligned.” 

The safety of people and equipment around launch sites is paramount in what is a relatively new field of commercial space transport.

The first launch from Britain will involve eight small satellites being taken into space from Newquay airport in Cornwall by Virgin Orbit. 

Virgin Orbit, which sends rockets into space from under the wing of a Boeing 747, is firing its Launcher One rocket from Spaceport Cornwall.

The mission, which has been named “Start Me Up” in tribute to the iconic British band, the Rolling Stones, will be the first horizontal orbital launch from the UK. It will take off from Newquay and fly out over the ocean. Flying to 35,000 feet, it then drops the unmanned rockets from under its wings, which fall for five seconds before igniting and blasting into orbit.

Spaceport Cornwall is a horizontal spaceport catering for carrier aircraft, spaceplanes and other vehicles requiring the use of a runway to take-off or land. It is one of seven spaceport sites being developed across the UK. 

Scottish company Skyrora is planning to launch microsatellites from Scotland next year. Lockheed Martin, Orbex and Astraius are all also planning launch programmes north of the border.

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