One giant leap: Vertical launch spaceport to bring UK into new space age

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Spacecraft launch
Spacecraft launch

The UK Space Agency has selected the first vertical launch site in Sutherland on the north coast of Scotland and is making available a new £2 million fund to boost horizontal spaceport development across Britain, Business Secretary Greg Clark will announce today.

Scotland is the best place in the UK to reach in-demand satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets. Initial funding of £2.5 million will go to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the vertical launch site in Sutherland which will use a combination of proven and innovative rocket technologies to pave the way for a world-leading spaceflight market.

This will grow the UK space economy through regular, reliable and responsible access to space.

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.The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites.

“This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.”

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

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said: “The space sector is an important player in the UK’s economy and our recent Space Industry Act has unlocked the potential for hundreds of new jobs and billions of revenue for British business across the country.

“Today’s announcement is exciting for places like Newquay in Cornwall too, paving the way for further potential space ports in the future.”

The £50 million UK Spaceflight Programme is also considering leading proposals for horizontal spaceplane operations from across Britain, submitted as part of its call on low cost access to space.

The UK has a thriving space sector with significant capability in manufacturing satellites and using the information they collect to drive innovation in other sectors ranging from healthcare to finance.

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This spaceport 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. We are committed to supporting a commercial market for access to space in the UK, and we will continue to engage with any company who seeks to operate here.”

A number of sites across the UK are developing their spaceport plans and engaging with regulators, demonstrating the scale of the industry’s ambition and confidence in a future UK spaceflight market, which could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain.

Low cost access to space is important for the UK’s space sector, which builds more small satellites than any other country, with Glasgow building more than any other city in Europe.

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