Britain backs Scottish spaceport plan with $40 mln in grants

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 18, 2018

By GCR Staff0 CommentsA peninsula on the north coast of Scotland has been chosen as the most suitable location for the UK's first spaceport.

The government also announced a new £2m development fund for horizontal launch spaceports across the United Kingdom at sites such as Prestwick in Ayrshire, Cornwall's Newquay, Campbeltown in Argyll and Bute and Llanbedr in Gwynedd, Wales, subject to a successful business case. These operate by having a special type of plane take-off and, once it's at a high enough altitude and over the ocean, it launches a rocket into orbit. There was some mention of an announcement possibly being made at the Farnborough 2018 Airshow, but it was unconfirmed at the time.

As a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs, we want Britain to be the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites as part of our modern Industrial Strategy. However, business secretary Greg Clark and the UK Space Agency chose A'Mhoine, an area previoulsly best known for Mull-A-Mhouine single malt and otters, as the most viable for launching vertical take off rockets. This will "help the whole country capitalize on the huge potential of the commercial space age". "It is a dynamic, fast-growing sector which employs some of the country's top talent, as well as contributing to economic growth and other important national needs, such as Earth observation and satellite communications".

The British government said Lockheed Martin's work on the upper stage, known as an orbital maneuvering vehicle, will be done at a facility in the English city of Reading.

The site will support rocket takeoffs, while three other sites will support space missions launched from aircraft.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise will be given £2.5 million from the UK Government to develop the spaceport which could be up and running in less than five years.

One of those potential launch sites is Cornwall Airport Newquay in southwestern England.

Mr Strang's comments followed confirmation that Sutherland, in the Scottish Highlands, would house a spaceport from which micro-satellites could be launched. "In Spire, Scotland already sports Europe's most advanced and prolific satellite manufacturing capability, and with a spaceport right next door, enabling clockwork-like launches, we can finally get our space sector supply chain to be truly integrated", he said in the statement.

Britain's space industry is considered a success story: it is growing four times faster than the rest of the United Kingdom economy and the country has a 7 per cent share of the global space industry.

"These grants will help kickstart an exciting new era for the United Kingdom space industry, and this is only the beginning of our LaunchUK campaign", said space agency chief executive Graham Turnock.

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