Scotland’s lift off

Far north in the Sutherland coast of Scotland the UK space agency is giving the Highlands and Islands Enterprise £2.5 million to development the UK’s first space port on a remote boggy stretch of land. A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching or receiving spacecrafts. One of spaceports aims in general is to take ordinary people or very rich ones at least up into space in a form of spaceplane that would take off exactly like a plane. These planes would fly more than 15,000 metres into the air, to the edges of space, giving tourists a view of the Earth, and even a few minutes of weightlessness. There are already ten licensed spaceports in the United States, but this one would be the first of its kind in the UK. It has its own added goal to boost suborbital flight, satellite’s and spaceplane ambitions making launches as early as 2020. The satellites sent will be able to monitor everything you can imagine from weather, communications and even take pictures of activity on earth. Having a spaceport will open up the UK to a market potentially worth £3.8 billion but they need to get moving fast as other competitive countries, such as Russia and the US, already have significant shares in the nascent small launch market.

These grants are mainly given to two companies, Lockheed Martin a US aerospace firm which contributes small satellite launch vehicles and Orbex who develop and produce prime rockets that enable satellites to reach space. Not only this, the grants have also unlocked studies into horizontal launch facilities, something that Virgin is very interested in. However, for these types of projects and spaceports there is a need to have extremely long runways with areas of land surrounding that won’t pose a threat to the public or infrastructure. Hence why the remote highlands of Scotland have become popular for Space technology. Other companies in Scotland include Clyde Space, Alba Orbital and Spires offices in Glasgow although based in San Francisco. This popularity meant that the spaceport was the next logical step for Scotland.




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