UK Space Agency awards funding to develop new spaceports

UK Space Agency awards funding to develop new spaceports

UK Space Agency awards funding to develop new spaceports

Sites such as Newquay, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia will be boosted by a new £2m fund to grow their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions. The site supports rocket launches for spacecraft operating in sun-synchronous or other highly inclined orbits.

UK Business Minister Greg Clark said the new site at Sutherland, on the northerly-most tip of mainland Scotland, would provide facilities for vertically-launched space rockets and satellites to take off into orbit.

The UK is a leading player in the space race today, with many companies working on small satellite technology.

A remote, sparsely populated plot of land on the Scottish coast has been chosen as the UK's first commercial vertical launch space port to send satellites into orbit.

In addition to Lockheed Martin's grants, another $7 million (£5.5 million) will be awarded to London-based Orbex to support the development of its Prime rocket for launch from the Sutherland spaceport. The project should attract a large number of space tourists and could boost the UK's economy by almost £4bn, the government says, launching the £50m scheme. With the new spaceport "Britain will become Europe's first universal destination for the construction, launch and operation of satellites", - said the Agency.

If all goes according to plan, this initial launch site could pave the way for future spaceflight and be up and running by the early 2020s.

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Horizontal launch sites have significant potential in a future United Kingdom spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain.

"This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalize on the huge potential of the commercial space age", said United Kingdom business secretary Greg Clark. "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".

"This historic "pathfinder" launch for the United Kingdom will also demonstrate the tremendous potential small satellites and CubeSats have across a wide range of commercial and government data collection applications", said Wood.

Noted space cadet Virgin founder Richard Branson has his eye on another possible site - Newquay in Cornwall.

Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, added: "This grant will help to kick-start an exciting new era for the UK space industry, and this is only the beginning of our LaunchUK campaign". Such an agreement would make it easier for United States companies to launch from a British spaceport, Bloomberg reported.

There is a dynamic, all be it small, satellite manufacturing sector in the United Kingdom, this is good news for them as they may have the ability to launch programmes locally.

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