Newquay Airport hasn’t been renowned as a tourist destination in and of itself. Until now.

The airport’s alter ego is “Spaceport Cornwall”, and it’s about to make history as the site of the first space launch from British or European soil.

A modified 747 jumbo jet is due to take off just after midnight GMT, releasing a rocket over the Atlantic which will take nine satellites into orbit.

A successful launch would mark a major milestone for Britain’s space industry, and should pave the way for more launches from UK soil in the future.

One of the satellites is the work of Welsh aerospace company Space Forge, making it the first to be both designed and built in Wales. The satellite contains a “shoe-box sized factory”, according to co-founder Josh Western, to make next-generation semiconductors, exploiting the conditions in space to get a higher quality conductive crystal than you can on Earth.

Cornwall residents are making the most of the occasion after thousands of tickets to watch the launch were quickly snapped up. A silent disco will entertain chilly space enthusiasts, who will also be treated to refreshments and a big screen.

Ian Annett, deputy chief executive of the UK Space Agency said the launch would help show that Britain was a “science superpower.”

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