INTERVIEW WITH

INTERVIEW WITH

MELISSA THORPE SPACEPORT CORNWALL HEAD OF ENGAGEMENT

What is your role?

Head of Engagement for Spaceport Cornwall, which basically consists of a variety of different roles, including business development, lobbying, stakeholder management, public relations, marketing, event management, and education outreach.

 


How would you describe your organisation and its work?

Spaceport Cornwall is a consortium made up of Cornwall Council, Goonhilly Earth Station and Virgin Orbit to bring satellite launch to the UK, in a responsible and ethical way to inspire the next generation about a career in space to provide well-paid jobs...no big deal!

 

 

How can you help SMEs in Exeter and the region?

Spaceport Cornwall is acting as a catalyst for the sector across the whole region by attracting investment, raising the profile of the space sector in the SW. We are putting Cornwall, and the South West on the international space map, and we want businesses down here to take advantage of that.

 


What does your average day look like?

Pre-COVID19: Every day was different, I could be in the office at the Spaceport one moment, giving a presentation in a school the next, to briefing Government Ministers.

I travelled a lot, sitting on industry panels around the world alongside the likes of NASA, Blue Origin and Space X discussing the UK’s role in growing commercial space. At the moment my day is balancing home-schooling, speaking at online conferences, and video calls with our partners in California!

 


What do you wish other people knew about your work?

To make the link between Space and the role it plays in all our lives clearer to some people. Whether it's the opportunity to learn more about the environment and climate change through earth observation and remote sensing, or life changing apps currently helping the health sector fight the Covid-19 pandemic, Space powers so much innovation back here on earth. It has the potential to help answer some of the biggest global questions communities are facing now and in the future.

Many people think we are a large team made up of consultants. We are a tiny team (4!) that have been on this journey from day one, which was over 6 years ago. There have been massive challenges, but we are all so passionate about our project.



Why and how would you encourage young people to consider STEM careers?

In my outreach work I try to express that space isn’t beyond their reach, it is here on Earth with the incredible applications that benefit our lives and cross all sectors. I especially aim to inspire girls to get into STEMM careers.



How did you get into your role?

Growing up in rural Canada, I was surrounded by incredible night skies, which inspired me to want to go into astronomy. However, I was told by a teacher there was no future in it where I lived. So, I ended up studying economics, moving to the UK to complete my Masters at the London School of Economics where I focused on aerospace policy. This led me to a job in Cornwall to support the diversification of activities at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

Email: melissa.thorpe@spaceportcornwall.com 

www.spaceportcornwall.com

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