Scotland could hold site for first spaceport outside US

Britain is in the running to be one of the first countries outside of the US to have its own spaceport by 2018.

Of the eight possible locations for the launch pad to be announced at the Farnborough Airshow tomorrow, six are in Scotland.

Campbeltown, Kinloss, Leuchars, Lossiemouth, Prestwick and Stornoway are all on the list, confirmation of which will come just two months before Scotland votes in the independence referendum.

The remaining sites are in Newquay, Cornwall, and in Llanbedr, Gwynedd.

For the space industry, the major interest in a UK spaceport would be to facilitate satellite launches.

However there is also hope it would also become a centre for the new tourism initiatives from specialist operators such as Virgin Galactic and XCor.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander hinted that Scotland could become a key player in the UK government’s future plans for developing commercial space travel.

“I am delighted that the government is pushing forward with its ambitious plans to open a spaceport in the UK by 2018. Spaceports will be key to us opening up the final frontier of commercial space travel,” he said.

“Scotland has a proud association with space exploration. We celebrated Neil Armstrong’s Scottish ancestry when he became the first man on the Moon and only last week an amazing Scottish company was responsible for building the UK Space Agency’s first satellite.

“The UK space industry is one of our great success stories and I am sure there will be a role for Scotland to play in the future.”

The British space industry is worth an estimated £9bn a year, employing more than 28,900 people who work for hundreds of companies.

The Government wants to capture a tenth of the world’s space market by 2030, making the sector worth up to £40bn and providing as many as 100,000 jobs.