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Scottish rocket launch sites come together

September 18, 2020

By Chris Forrester

The five space ports under consideration in Scotland have formed an alliance to highlight their plans and eventual activity.

Three of the members (in Shetland, Sutherland and the Western Isles) are conventional vertical rocket sites, while two others (in Prestwick and Machrihanish, Argyll) are looked upon as ‘horizontal’ sites that depend on aircraft launches.

The alliance wants to address common issues and promote the industry onto the global stage.

Ultimately, the goal is to assist the UK in its ambition to create awareness and demand of their orbital launch capability. The ability to launch would boost Scotland’s burgeoning small satellite industry and open up other space business areas such as low gravity manufacturing, earth observation, orbital energy harvesting, and space tourism, a statement said.

Ian Annett, deputy chief executive for project delivery at the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK Space Agency and the new Spaceports Alliance are working in lockstep towards a common goal – make the UK the leading destination for space launch in Europe. We want each space port to provide a range of services that complements those available at other space port sites; meeting the myriad demands from companies for satellite launches and sub-orbital flights. The Spaceports Alliance will help us realise this ambition and build on our space sector’s proud history of collaboration.”

John Innes of the Scottish Space Leadership Council said: “The international race to build launch capability ahead of other global competitors is very much underway. The Spaceports Alliance will facilitate an inclusive, collaborative approach in order to navigate the sector through the challenges and opportunities posed by the prospect of UK launch in the very near future.”

The Sutherland spaceport has won planning approval.

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