Scotland dominates list of potential sites for UK spaceport

by Jak Phillips | 16 Jul 2014

The UK’s bid to become a space tourism hotspot has taken a ‘giant leap’ forward, after the government unveiled eight coastal sites under consideration to host the country’s first spaceport – six of which are in Scotland.

Speaking at Farnborough Air Show’s ‘Space Day’ yesterday (15 July), aviation minister Robert Goodwill and UK Space Agency chief executive Dr David Parker announced the findings of a recent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report highlighting eight possible airfields for the spaceport and the economic opportunities it could bring.

The government’s ambition is for a UK spaceport to open in 2018 – with former science minister David Willetts having called for the industry to grow to a value of £40bn (US$69bn, €51bn) by 2030. There have also been calls for a collaboration that would see Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space shuttles take off from the new UK site.

“Space is big business for the UK. It already contributes £11.3bn (US$19.4bn, €14.3bn) to the economy each year, supporting nearly 35,000 jobs,” said business secretary Vince Cable. “That’s why it’s important for us to prepare the UK for new launcher technology and take steps towards meeting our ambition of establishing the first British spaceport by 2018.”

The Department for Transport will consult on the criteria the CAA has identified that will make a location suitable for a spaceport. In addition to meteorological, environmental and economic factors, these include:

• An existing runway which currently is, or is capable of being extended to, more than 3,000 metres in length.

• The ability to accommodate dedicated segregated airspace to manage spaceflights safely.• A reasonable distance from densely populated areas in order to minimise impact on the uninvolved general public.

Following the consultation, further work will be done to develop locations which remain on the shortlist. This would include seeking the views of local people and other stakeholders before any decisions are taken to proceed with any planned spaceport.

The eight coastal locations that could be used for a spaceport include:

• Campbeltown Airport (Scotland)

• Glasgow Prestwick Airport (Scotland)• Llanbedr Airport (Wales)

• Newquay Cornwall Airport (England)• Kinloss Barracks (Scotland)

• RAF Leuchars (Scotland)• RAF Lossiemouth (Scotland)

• Stornoway Airport (Scotland)

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The UK’s bid to become a space tourism hotspot has taken a ‘giant leap’ forward, after the government unveiled eight coastal sites under consideration to host the country’s first spaceport – six of which are in Scotland. Speaking at Farnborough Air Show’s ‘Space Day’ yesterday (15 July), aviation minister Robert Goodwill and UK Space Agency chief executive Dr David Parker announced the findings of a recent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
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Shuttles may be blasting off from a British spaceport by 2018, under government plans to embrace the growing space tourism sector / Shutterstock / 3Dsculptor
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