Satellite firm eyes space from Llanbedr in creating 100 jobs

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Llanbedr airfieldImage source, Geograph/Roger Brooks
Image caption,
The Llanbedr airfield employed 130 people before it closed in 2004

Satellites could soon be launched into space from Snowdonia.

B2Space and Snowdonia Aerospace Centre want to create 93 specialist jobs at Llanbedr airfield, Gwynedd.

The number is based on it launching 30 satellites a year by 2020 for purposes including tracking changes to the environment and coastlines.

The former military airfield is also one of eight shortlisted by the UK government to launch commercial space flights.

B2Space's Valentin Canales said about 3,000 micro satellites will need launching in the next five years as we "use space in a way that hasn't been considered before".

His firm and the aerospace centre have bid for grants totalling £10m to make the field, near Harlech, a key UK site for this.

Other possible uses for them include providing communications to remote areas or for natural disaster management.

Media caption,

Llanbedr could be on its way to being the centre for European space travel

"Wales is already a centre of excellence for aerospace manufacturing and has the physical and intellectual infrastructure to support the growing space market," said Mr Canales.

His firm will relocate from Bristol to Llanbedr if the project is successful in providing people, companies and organisations with access to small satellites.

The satellites will be launched from a stratospheric balloon with a self-operative platform. A three-stage rocket will then deliver them to the required orbits.

A spokesman for the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre said the development of a low-cost satellite launch operation will be a catalyst for innovation and jobs.

"The project has the potential to attract technology, research, and investment from around the world," added John Idris Jones, chairman of Snowdonia Enterprise Zone.

"The development means lots of opportunities for the north Wales supply chain and will provide a real boost to the wider Wales space sector."

Llanbedr has also bid to become the UK's first commercial passenger spaceport and bids for £10m funding were submitted to the UK Space Agency in April.

Image source, B2Space and Snowdonia Aerospace Centre
Image caption,
About 3,000 microsatellites will need launching between 2017 and 2022, Valentin Canales predicts