Britain backs Scottish spaceport plan with $40 million in grants

17 Juillet, 2018, 00:38 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • 'Great British Space Age' will see rocket launches in three years, says government

In a news release timed to coincide with the opening of this week's Farnborough International Airshow, the government said it would provide initial funding of £2.5 million ($3.3 million) to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the vertical-launch site in Sutherland, with an aim of seeing the first liftoff in the early 2020s.

Almost a fifth of the UK Space industry is based in Scotland and Glasgow builds more satellites than any other city in Europe.

A traditional "vertical" rocket launch pad will be built in Sutherland, on the north coast of Scotland, to put small satellites into orbit.

Lockheed Martin is in line to receive $31 million (£23.5 million) in grants from the UK Space Agency to establish Britain's first spaceport on Scotland's north coast, and to develop a new made-in-Britain system for deploying small satellites in orbit.

Funding was also provided to other sites in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall, the western tip of England, which are examining their potential for horizontal spaceports.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is expected to be given £2.5m from the United Kingdom government to develop the spaceport, which could be up and running by the early 2020s.

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HIE chief executive Charlotte Wright said: "The decision to support the UK's first spaceport in Sutherland is tremendous news for our region and for Scotland as a whole".

Peter Platzer, Spire's CEO said: "A spaceport in Scotland and the United Kingdom is fantastic news!"

Its aim is to cement Britain's place in the commercial space sector and it'll be built on the awesomely named Scottish peninsula, A'Mhoine. We are investing £2.5 million in a vertical launch site in Sutherland which will create hundreds of new jobs. "This partnership could see Virgin Orbit's innovative horizontal launch technology helping the U.K.'s small satellite industry access space from the convenience of a Spaceport in Cornwall".

"The Cornwall partnership allows us to grasp important market share, gain instant global market credibility and, with the technology already being tested in the USA, further lower our risk", Patrick McCall, managing director for Virgin group and chairman of Virgin Orbit's board of directors, said in a news release.

Agency chief executive Graham Turnock said the spaceport grant would "help kick-start an exciting new era for the United Kingdom space industry". "We are committed to supporting a commercial market for access to space in the United Kingdom, and we will continue to engage with any company who seeks to operate here".

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