Britain announces its first ever spaceship launch site
LONDON, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Britain's space sector took one giant leap Monday when the site of its first vertical launch spaceport was announced.
The proposed space port at Sutherland in the north of Scotland has been awarded 3.3 million U.S. dollars in funding by the government-owned UK Space Agency to develop a ground-breaking launch site.
Government Business Secretary Greg Clark Monday launched the start of a Great British Space Age that will see vertically-launched space rockets and satellites take off from the new spaceport.
UK Space Agency said it selected the Sutherland site because Scotland is the best place in Britain to reach highly sought-after satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets.
The initial funding will go to Scotland's Highlands and Islands Enterprise agency to develop the Sutherland site which will use a combination of proven and innovative rocket technologies to pave the way for a world-leading spaceflight market.
The UK Space Agency is also making available a new 2.65 million U.S. dollar fund to boost horizontal spaceport development across Britain, with potential sites already earmarked at Newquay in Cornwall, Prestwick, near Glasgow and at Snowdonia in North Wales.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "We want Britain to be the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites as part of our modern Industrial Strategy. The UK's thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put Britain in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites."
Clark said it will build on Britain's global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the country capitalize on the huge potential of the commercial space age.
The commercial space sector is estimated to be worth a potential 5 billion U.S. dollars to the British economy over the next 10 years.
A UK Space Agency spokesperson said: "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."
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "The UK Government is driving the commercial space age and Scotland is leading the way. Scotland is uniquely positioned to pilot the UK's commercial space sector. The opportunities are considerable, launching a new age for British industry."
Graham Turnock, CEO 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, he added.
Turnock said low cost access to space is important for Britain's thriving space sector which builds more small satellites than any other country, with Glasgow building more than any other city in Europe.
Charlotte Wright, Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said: "The decision to support the UK's first spaceport in Sutherland is tremendous news for our region and for Scotland."