UK to build a spaceport

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The British Isles is to build a satellite launch site in Scotland.

A remote section of Scottish seaside, on the A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland, which is at the extreme North-West of Scotland, has been chosen by the UK Space Agency.

Scotland will receive a £2.5 million ($3.3m) grant towards development of the site, and the government says that Lockheed Martin will be one of the partners in the venture.  Lockheed is reported to be keen to bring its established Electron rockets to Scotland. Currently they launch from New Zealand.

The intention is for the site to be launching smallish satellites by the early 2020’s.  The UK Space Agency says that space activity  could be worth up to £3.8 billion over the next 10 years.

The scheme was announced at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK.

A further £2 million will be spent examining whether horizontal (aircraft supported) flights could be made for tourist visits to the edge of space, and as mooted by Sir Richard Branson. These are not thought likely to take place from the Scottish site and are more favoured to take place in Cornwall, at the extreme south-West of England and one location is highly favoured near Newquay, which Branson is backing at a site dubbed ‘Cornwall Spaceport’.

“The decision to support the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland is tremendous news for our region and for Scotland as a whole,” said HIE’s chief executive Charlotte Wright.  “The international space sector is growing and we want to ensure the region is ready to reap the economic benefits that will be generated from this fantastic opportunity.”

More details on both projects will emerge this week.


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