VIDEO: The woman at the heart of UK aerospace

Melissa Thorpe, Interim Head of Spaceport Cornwall, talks to Air International on International Women’s Day about inspiring the next generation of female rocket scientists

Melissa Thorpe is a pioneer for all individuals embracing new opportunities in space exploration, but especially for women and girls. To celebrate International Women’s Day, Air International spoke to the Canadian, who heads up the UK's first satellite horizontal launch spaceport.

“I wasn't the brightest at maths at school but I worked really hard really hard to get where I am, and to instil that into girls is really important,” says Thorpe.

As part of her leadership role at the Spaceport she engages with the local community, touring local schools to encourage and inspire children into the historic and expanding opportunities unfolding on their own doorstep.

With a five-year-old daughter she's keenly aware of avoiding gender stereotypes. According to Thorpe, girls can be girls as well as rocket scientists – it does not have to be one or the other. “You can do both – you can do and be who you want,” she says.

Thorpe gained an honours degree in Economics and International Relations from Vancouver Island University in British Columbia and went on to gain an MSc in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics.

She is leading the UK at a critical and emerging era in space travel and exploration. The Spaceport is developing a rocket propulsion test facility, further hangarage and fuel handling equipment for LauncherOne. The full story is in next month's issue of AIR International.