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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Space camp idea for airport site
Manston airport
A skeleton staff has been kept on at Manston while a buyer is sought
Proposals are being heard on Wednesday for a space centre to be based on the site of Kent International Airport.

Businessman Alan Cornwell, 63, from Meopham, is discussing his idea at a preliminary meeting with Thanet council's economic development unit.

He wants to set up a "space camp" with interactive learning exhibits for children and adults.

The Manston airport was shut down after its operator PlaneStation went into administration at the end of July.

Mr Cornwell said he currently had "nothing at all" in terms of finance for the project, but was confident of being able to fund it.

"It's only been over the past two weeks when I was reading in the newspapers about the unemployment in the area [after the collapse of PlaneStation and EUjet], and I think that this could encourage employment in a big way," he said.

A space centre is already due to be up and running in Queensland, Australia, in the next couple of years, according to Mr Cornwell.

It's like training at Nasa, but for the public
Alan Cornwell

He said the developments would include eight domed areas with flight and weightlessness simulators and mission control mock-ups.

"It's like the space camps they have in America, it's an education centre more than anything else.

"It's like training at Nasa, but for the public."

Mr Cornwell said building a space centre at Manston could cost about 20m.

Administrators Grant Thornton are looking to sell PlaneStation and the airport "as a going concern".

A spokesman said serious expressions of interest would be considered, but they would have to be formal offers with a "realistic business plan and financial backing".


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