A decision has been made on the location of the first vertical launch site to be developed in the UK. The initial site will be located in Sutherland on the north coast of Scotland, the UK Space Agency announced today. £2 million will also be made available to boost horizontal spaceport development at other sites across Britain including Newquay, Snowdonia and Glasgow and Prestwick in Scotland.
This new spaceflight market is significant as the burgeoning small satellite market in the UK and beyond demands more widespread and cost-effective access to space. The vertical site in Sutherland will initially be funded by £2.5 million that will be given to Highlands and Islands Enterprise which will use a combination of proven and innovative rocket technologies to develop the launch complex.
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,” said Greg Clark, Business Secretary. “The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites. This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.”
It is hoped that the establishment of the spaceports will attract international investment and also grow the sub-orbital and satellite launch and spaceplane development in the UK.
“The space sector is an important player in the UK’s economy and our recent Space Industry Act has unlocked the potential for hundreds of new jobs and billions of revenue for British business across the country,” said Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport. “Today’s announcement is exciting for places like Newquay in Cornwall too, paving the way for further potential space ports in the future.”
The £50 million UK Spaceflight Programme is also considering leading proposals for horizontal spaceplane operations from across Britain, submitted as part of its call on low cost access to space.
UK space companies welcomed the news, including pioneering small satellite company, Glasgow-based Clyde Space. “From designing and building the very first satellite in Scotland, Clyde Space has grown and become a front runner in small-satellite manufacturing,” said Will Whitehorn, Non-Executive Chairman of Clyde Space. “Having a spaceport located in Scotland will bring about a whole host of commercial advantages and not only to our operations in Glasgow, but to the entire space sector in the whole of the UK.”
Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire Global, a U.S. company that also has operations in Glasgow said: “A spaceport in Scotland and the UK is fantastic news! Launch continues to be the most unpredictable part of the overall supply chain, with delays, often for months and sometimes years, being the norm. In Spire, Scotland already sports Europe’s most advanced and prolific satellite manufacturing capability, and with a space port right next door, enabling clockwork like launches, we can finally get our space sector supply chain to be truly integrated!”