The esteemed head of Spaceport Cornwall has announced her departure from the role.

Melissa Quinn will be leaving her position at the end of this month after being an integral part of the Spaceport team since its inception in 2014.

Her unwavering dedication and commitment propelled her into the head role in January 2021 after providing support for the UK Space Agency bid. 

Under her capable leadership, the team achieved a historic milestone with the first-ever UK launch in January 2023. 

Despite the satellites not reaching their final orbit, the Spaceport and Cornwall Airport Newquay teams flawlessly executed ground operations, securing the UK's first spaceport license.

As an influential figure in the space industry, Melissa has championed Cornwall on a global stage. 

She has shared her expertise alongside prestigious organizations such as NASA, Space X, and the United Nations, advocating for increased transparency and consideration of the environmental and societal impacts of space launches. 

Melissa spearheaded the Life Cycle Analysis initiative in collaboration with the University of Exeter and authored academic papers emphasizing the need for enhanced regulations regarding space debris mitigation. 

Prior to her role as Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa played a key role in the success of Cornwall Council's Aerohub project, securing Enterprise Zone status and providing support to multiple aerospace businesses across Cornwall.

Melissa said: “This has been one of the hardest decisions of my life, and absolutely no reflection on Spaceport Cornwall, but a personal decision believing it is the right time to move on. 

“It has been a huge challenge, professionally, and personally, to deliver this project, and I am incredibly proud of what my small dedicated team, and I have achieved.

“Mostly I am proud of our work with local young people, especially girls, inspiring them to get into STEAM careers, as well as challenge the status quo. 

“With the Cabinet approval last week, I am leaving Spaceport Cornwall at the start of an exciting new chapter, and I will be cheering it on from the side lines. 

“I want to say thank you to my team, my family, our partners and to the county of Cornwall for helping to deliver our purpose of Space for Good, and putting Cornwall on the world’s stage. Ad Astra.”

While Melissa will be leaving her current role, she remains committed to the space industry.

She will be announcing a new position in the coming weeks, further contributing to the advancement of space exploration.

Cornwall Council approved the Space Sector Development, including the team and activities until 2025, on May 10.

Recently Spaceport Cornwall has continued its journey in becoming a multi-user space port with the opening of its Space Systems Operations Facility (SSOF) in April.

The Space Systems Operations Facility is a new space for innovation, which aims to boost inward investment into the county and drive collaboration between organisations that will fuel the growth of the sector by providing the full service of space capabilities. 

Combined with Spaceport Cornwall’s Space Systems Integration Facility (SSIF), the Space Systems Operation Facility completes the Centre for Space Technologies, a £5.6M project funded by ERDF and Cornwall Council.

The two facilities of the Centre for Space Technologies provide state-of-the-art buildings for businesses to design, develop, launch, track, and use the data from, satellites.

The Space Systems Operation Facility houses a new clean room that businesses based within the facility can make use of, in addition to having access to the larger clean room in the SSIF. Making Cornwall the only region in the UK where a satellite could be built, integrated, and launched.

Louis Gardner, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for the economy, said: “I would like to thank Melissa personally for her dedication and leadership in making Spaceport Cornwall a reality - and in particularly the way in which her work has inspired thousands of young people to understand that an amazing career in space is something they can achieve right here in Cornwall.”

Cornwall Council recently approved the Space Sector Development Strategy which sets out the future direction of the project over the next two years. 

Plans are underway to fill the vacant Head of Spaceport role over the summer.