Sutherlands A’Mhoine Peninsula has beat out Cornwall’s Newquay, Campbeltown in Argyll and Bute and Llanbedr, Gwynedd, Wales to secure funding for the UK’s first spaceport.
It's official! Funding awarded to vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland. Innovative horizontal launch #spaceports also set to benefit from £2m development fund #IndustrialStrategy #FIA18 #LaunchUK https://t.co/GYpcCDCXKk pic.twitter.com/2CV35mDmfi
— UK Space Agency (@spacegovuk) July 15, 2018
The business case put forward by ‘Highlands and Islands Enterprise’ would use a stretch of land, located on the north coast of Scotland, to vertically launch rockets within the UK.
Today the UK Space Agency agreed, announcing they would spend £2.5m to have HIE develop facilities there. The Scotish company will work with a consortium of companies, including Engineering giant Lockheed Martin, to start launching rockets as early as 2020.
The decision to support the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland is tremendous news for our region and for Scotland as a whole. The international space sector is growing and we want to ensure the region is ready to reap the economic benefits that will be generated from this fantastic opportunity. Charlotte Wright – CEO Highlands and Islands Enterprise
The spaceports development has been driven by a boom in the UK space sector. This has been due to the rising popularity of smaller satellites such as CubeSats.
Lockheed, a member of the consortium of companies supporting HIEs bid, wants to bring their Electron rocket to the facility. The two-stage orbital expendable launch vehicle has been developed by the American aerospace company Rocket Lab to specifically cover the commercial small satellite launch segment.
Currently, the Electron is based in New Zealand. By launching in the UK it will lower launch costs for European companies.
Rocket Lab’s would also develop part of the British version of the Electron in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, and at Harwell, Oxfordshire. The company wants to manufacture both the upper-stage and satellite dispenser in the UK.
Local launches should be good news for the UK space sector and further boost the industry.