Three Scottish sites ruled out and three remain in UK spaceport race

Glasgow Prestwick spaceport concept
Glasgow Prestwick’s spaceport concept

Three Scottish airports are a step closer to becoming home of Europe’s first spaceport today after three Scottish RAF bases were ruled out as potential sites.

Following a three month consultation by the UK government, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has narrowed its shortlist of possible locations for the spaceport from eight to five.

Glasgow Prestwick, Campbeltown and Stornoway airports are still in the running, as well as Newquay in England and Llanbedr in Wales.

The government ruled out two airfields at RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks for operational reasons, given their vital role in Defence, while it was also confirmed RAF Leuchars would not be considered as a permanent facility but could be used as a temporary spaceport.

Work to establish the feasibility of a UK spaceport began in 2012, when the Department for Transport and UK Space Agency asked the CAA to review the operational environment and regulations to allow spaceplanes to operate.

Last year, the government launched its space innovation and growth strategy 2014 to 2030, which set out the economic advantages of the UK becoming a European focal point for the pioneers of commercial spaceflights and scientific research.

The next step is for the DfT to develop a detailed technical specification of spaceport requirements, prior to inviting proposals. This is due to be published later this year.

Aviation minister Robert Goodwill said: “I want Britain to lead the way in commercial spaceflight. Establishing a spaceport will ensure we are at the forefront of this exciting new technology.

“Today’s consultation response marks another step forward in our work to support this emerging industry, which will create jobs and drive economic growth.”

Business secretary Vince Cable added: “Paving the way for a national spaceport is one of our biggest science achievements in this parliament. It greatly underscores the work of our space innovation and growth strategy to position the UK as a world-leader in this exciting arena that is expected to be worth up to £400 billion a year to the global economy by 2030.

“Launching satellites and operating commercial space flights from our shores was once only confined to the depths of science fiction, but with the results of this consultation we are one step closer to making this a very real ability in the near future.”

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