United Kingdom awards $3.3 million for Scottish spaceport

Pablo Tucker
July 18, 2018

THE UK'S FIRST space rocket launch site will be built in Scotland. The team is now taking requests from potential customers to fill its CubeSat manifest for this first launch. While the European Space Agency does own a spaceport, it is located around the globe in French Guiana, South America.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise will be given £2.5m from the United Kingdom government to develop the spaceport which could be up and running by the early 2020s.

Sutherland on the north coast beat Cornwall and other locations after being chosen as the site for Britain's first spaceport.

The proposed site is on the Melness Crofting Estate. HIE will work with a commercial consortium that includes the USA aerospace company Lockheed Martin.

Orbex said today in a separate announcement that it has raised a total of $40 million in public and private funding for the development of orbital launch systems.

Lockheed Martin plans on bringing its Electron rocket to the Sutherland spaceport, which now flies out of New Zealand. Currently, this vehicle flies out of New Zealand. There is also over of £60m backing for the United Kingdom division of Lockheed Martin and United Kingdom rocket startup Orbex.

The UK Space Agency has approved funding to develop a new launch site for small satellites in Sutherland, Scotland.

Under the plans announced on Monday, July 16, US group Lockheed and its partners will receive £23.5 million in grants from the UK Space Agency which will go toward establishing launch operations at Sutherland and developing a new system for deploying small satellites in Reading, southern England. By building a spaceport, Scotland aims to create a fully integrated supply chain - to manufacture, launch and operate satellites.

According to Government figures, the global space economy market is valued at between £155 billion and £190 billion, and it is estimated to grow to £400 billion by 2030.

HIE chief executive Charlotte Wright said the decision to support the UK's first spaceport in Sutherland in the Highlands is "tremendous news for our region and for Scotland as a whole". By 2030, the UK Government hopes to capture 10% of the global space market, the report adds, which could result in 100,000 additional jobs.

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".

Mr Strang's comments followed confirmation that Sutherland, in the Scottish Highlands, would house a spaceport from which micro-satellites could be launched. "It is a dynamic, fast-growing sector which employs some of the country's top talent, as well as contributing to economic growth and other important national needs, such as Earth observation and satellite communications".

"So there's a natural exclusion zone of around 4km from the site where the pad will be located, and you don't want to have any people or anything in the area".

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