UK Spaceports determined to succeed
January 27, 2023
The rocket and satellite industry know all about Florida’s long history of launches, as well as the importance of the French Guiana facility at Kourou or the Russian Cosmodrome at Baikonur. But there are dozens of other would-be launch sites now emerging, and the UK is determined to tap into at least some of these opportunities for small satellite launches.
Recently, the UK media was heavily focussed on an aircraft from Virgin Orbit attempting to achieve a ‘first’ rocket launch from the UK with its Cosmic Girl plane and LauncherOne craft. The mission did not end well, but Spaceport Cornwall is ready for at least a couple more launches this year.
There at least six other UK sites chasing rocket activity. They include:
· Spaceport 1, in North Uist on the Outer Hebrides, READY end-2023
· SaxaVord Spaceport, Shetland Islands, OPENING 2023
· Spaceport Machrihanish, Argyll, Scotland, READY 2025
· Space Hub Sutherland, Scotland, READY 2023
· Spaceport Snowdonia, Wales, READY 2024
· Prestwick Spaceport, Prestwick Airport, Scotland, READY 2024
· Spaceport Cornwall, Newquay Airport, Cornwall. OPERATIONAL
If all these projects come to fruition there could be many dozens of launches taking place during 2024. Of course, the UK (and in particular Scotland) is not alone in terms of Europe-wide launch activity.
A major rival is Sweden’s Esrange Space Centre which is a rocket range and research centre located about 40 kms East of the town of Kiruna in northern Sweden and just a short distance from the Arctic Circle. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson cut the ribbon during a ceremony at the Esrange spaceport on January 13th.
Other European spaceports are also in the rocket race. Portugal’s Azores, Norway’s Andoya island, Spain’s Andalusia facility.