Remote location in Scotland to host UK's first spaceport
Sutherland to host first UK spaceport
Scotland is likely to host the UK's first spaceport. The A'Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland, a remote landscape said to be the most suitable place in the UK to launch rockets vertically into space to put satellites into orbit.
The site in Sutherland was one of many coastal locations considered to host the first UK rocket launching point, with places such as Prestwick and Newquay being amongst the competition. However, a joint decision between Business Secretary Greg Clark and the UK Space Agency saw A'Mhoine as the most viable site to launch rockets.
The project will hope to attract a large number of space tourists that could boost the UK's economy by nearly £4bn, the planners say.
The Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will be granted an investment of £2.5m towards the development of the facility from the UK Space Agency.
Working closely with partners such as the American aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin, the HIE will hope to be launching satellites into orbit as soon as the early 2020s.
Presently, there is a launch site in New Zealand which is home to the Electron rocket, serving a similar purpose to the one on the blueprint. Lockheed wants to bring the Electron rocket to Scotland and the vehicle will be modified to have a propulsion unit and satellite dispenser.
Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin's UK country executive for space, told the BBC "As a country we've not invested in launch vehicles since 1971 and Black Arrow, which put up the Prospero satellite. I'm really proud to be working with the Lockheed Martin team and our partners in delivering the first launch from British soil".
This idea has sparked interest from Virgin founder, Richard Branson, who hopes that his Virgin Galactic would be one of the main operators of any UK spaceport. Currently, his Virgin Orbit company is based in Long Beach, California, but he is very keen to launch his vehicles from the UK, especially Newquay in Cornwall.
Greg Clark will announce further details of the project at the Farnborough Air Show today.