Published: Wed, July 18, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

UK Space Agency awards funding to develop new spaceports

UK Space Agency awards funding to develop new spaceports

"There is a significant launch backlog for small satellites globally and Orbex is primed to give industry and science a cost-effective, reliable and responsive route into space, directly from Europe". "It is a dynamic, fast-growing sector which employs some of the country's top talent, as well as contributing to economic growth and other important national needs, such as Earth observation and satellite communications".

A report last December said Scotland's space industry is now worth more to the economy than the defence sector. With the new spaceport, "the United Kingdom will become Europe's first one-stop-shop for building, launching and operating satellites", the agency said. The Highlands and Islands Enterprise agency was awarded GBP 2.5 million in initial funding to develop the vertical launch site, which could be ready for operations by the early 2020s.

The British government said Lockheed Martin's work on the upper stage, known as an orbital maneuvering vehicle, will be done at a facility in the English city of Reading.

Sutherland is the first vertical launch location to be awarded grant money, ahead of other sites at Unst, Shetland, and North Uist in the Western Isles.

A further £2m funding will boost development of vertical spaceports across Britain, subject to a successful business case, at Newquay airport, Glasgow Prestwick airport and at a site in Snowdonia. Currently, his Virgin Orbit company is based in Long Beach, California, but Newquay authorities hope to tempt him back to Blighty in time for a 2021 launch. A detailed plan to support such launches from the spaceport, including licensing of the airport as a spaceport, will be developed after the agreement is signed.

Orbex said today in a separate announcement that it has raised a total of $40 million in public and private funding for the development of orbital launch systems.

Britain's space industry is considered a success story: it is growing four times faster than the rest of the United Kingdom economy and the country has a 7 per cent share of the global space industry.

"The UK Space Agency's strategic vision for a world-class launch market will position the nation for a very bright future in space", said Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin's UK space executive.

The news follows only a day after Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS Group, a trade organisation representing the aerospace, defence and space industries, warned that Britain faces an "erosion" of investment in its space, security and defence sectors unless a good Brexit deal is struck with the European Union, on the BBC. "We are committed to supporting a commercial market for access to space in the United Kingdom, and we will continue to engage with any company who seeks to operate here".

Like this: