United Kingdom awards $3.3 million for Scottish spaceport

Federico Mansilla
Julio 18, 2018

Finding ways to get low cost access to space is important for the UK.

A proposed vertical launch site in Sutherland, Scotland has received funding of £2.5million from the UK Space Agency, which the Government anticipates will create hundreds of new jobs.

The UK Space agency said Sunday that it had chosen a peninsula on Scotland's north coast as the site of the country's first space port.

Scotland will be home to the UK's first spaceport, Britain's government has announced. More information is expected on July 16 at the airshow, that will include information on additional grants that will be available.

UK's Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said: "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 Industrial Strategy".

"We are committed to supporting a commercial market for access to space in the UK, and we will continue to engage with any company who seeks to operate here", said Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency.

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"The worldwide space sector is set to grow very significantly in the coming years, and we want to ensure that our businesses are ready to reap the economic benefits that will be generated", she said.

He said:"If the costs of operating in the United Kingdom become higher, then our ability to attract new investment will be diminished".

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Malcolm MacDonald, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Strathclyde, said the Sutherland site was an ideal location. With the new spaceport, "the United Kingdom will become Europe's first one-stop-shop for building, launching and operating satellites", the agency said. The UK Space Agency will be giving Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) £2.5 million for this initial stage of the project, which the UK government says "will use a combination of proven and innovative rocket technologies to pave the way for a world-leading spaceflight market".

A further £2m funding will boost development of vertical spaceports across Britain, subject to a successful business case, at Newquay airport, Glasgow Prestwick airport and at a site in Snowdonia. Such an agreement would make it easier for U.S. companies to launch from a British spaceport, Bloomberg reported. It will be capable of putting six small satellites in orbit. That agreement will be signed at Farnborough on Monday.

Orbex said today in a separate announcement that it has raised a total of $40 million in public and private funding for the development of orbital launch systems. Horizontal spaceports will be required further in the future to underpin a United Kingdom space flight market.

US and British officials will soon begin formal talks on a deal to establish "legal and technical safeguards to support USA space launch vehicles" to be used in the United Kingdom, the UK Space Agency said.

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