The Island is set to become a centre for space-based activities following the sealing of a deal which sees an Onchan-based company teaming up with global aerospace giant Boeing to develop a European teleport on the outskirts of Douglas.
Ian Jarritt, chairman of ManStar, a subsidiary of ManSat, said the Isle of Man is ideally situated to access satellites over the Atlantic and Indian oceans serving a significant part of the global telecommunications market.
'It is free from serious radio frequency interference or electronic pollution, has a world-class telecoms infrastructure, and as an international business centre is the perfect host for such global ventures,' said Mr Jarritt.
Agreement has been reached with Manx Telecom to use the site at Tromode that houses its satellite earth station. This is currently not used and the dish will be replaced.
ManStar has signed a teaming agreement with Boeing Service Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boeing Company, to further develop the earth station, or teleport.
'We are delighted to have joined forces with the world market leader in the satellite industry, to start realising the Island's potential as a centre for space-based activities,' said Mr Jarritt.
The team expects to use the facility as a major European communications hub to cater to the international satellite and telecommunications marketplace.
To date British teleports — the point at which satellite signals are received for onward transmission to their terrestrial destination — have been concentrated in London and Manchester and this development represents a major opportunity for the Isle of Man to establish a presence in the rapidly developing satellite communications industry.
Mr Jarritt praised the support provided by the Manx Government. 'In particular I would like to thank Treasury Minister Allan Bell and Trade and Industry Minister Alex Downie for their encouragement and willingness to meet with representatives from the Boeing Company when they recently visited the Island. This certainly contributed to the successful outcome to our negotiations.'
Chief Minister Richard Corkill said: 'The involvement of Boeing as the world number one in this field should really put the Isle of Man on the map as a hub for satellite and other telecommunications activity.
'This agreement is a further indication of the role that communications can play in sustaining a successful and diversified Manx economy in the future.'
The Boeing Company is the world's leading aerospace company, with products including satellites, aeroplanes and space equipment.
It is the USA's largest exporter in terms of sales, and total company revenues in 2002 were $54.1 billion. It employs 165,000 people around the world.
ManSat Limited is an Isle of Man company established in 1998 to provide business services for the international space industry. Chairman Bryan Stott, a well-known Manx businessman, co-founded the company with his son Chris, its chief executive, who is based in Houston and has extensive experience in the space industry.
Chris Stott, president and chief executive officer of ManSat, left his position as director of International Commercialisation and Sales with Lockheed Martin Space Operations to co-found ManSat.
He joined Lockheed Martin from Boeing Space and Communications Company in California where he worked in international business development for the Delta launch vehicle programme.
He has also worked extensively in British and American politics as an office manager, staff aide and speech writer in the British Parliament and as an intern in the US Senate and White House, as a political aide on two US presidential campaigns.
Mr Stott holds a masters degree in space studies from the International Space University, having graduated from the first class of ISU's MSS programme in Strasbourg in 1996.
He is the co-author of Britain and Europe's first work on space privatisation and commercialisation, 'A Space for Enterprise; the Aerospace Industries after Government Monopoly'.
Prior to his work in space, Mr Stott was special projects director with Life Education International, a children's health education and drug prevention programme and UN non-governmental organisation.