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Lift-off for Scotland: Sutherland to host first UK spaceport

A remote, boggy stretch of land on the north coast of Scotland is likely to become the UK’s first spaceport.
The A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland has been chosen as the most suitable place from which to launch rockets vertically to put satellites in orbit.
The UK Space Agency is giving Highlands and Islands Enterprise £2.5m towards the development of the facility.
HIE will work closely with a consortium that includes the American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.
The goal would be to have launches as early as possible in the 2020s.
“The decision to support the UK’s first spaceport in Sutherland is tremendous news for our region and for Scotland as a whole,” said HIE’s chief executive Charlotte Wright.
“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.”
Lockheed wants to bring the Electron rocket to Scotland. Currently, this vehicle flies out of New Zealand.
A British version of the vehicle would have a propulsion unit and satellite dispenser developed and built at Ampthill in Bedfordshire, Harwell in Oxfordshire, and in Reading.
Patrick Wood is Lockheed Martin’s UK country executive for space. “As a country we’ve not invested in launch vehicles since 1971 and Black Arrow, which put up the Prospero satellite. I’m really proud to be working with the Lockheed Martin team and our partners in delivering the the first launch from British soil,” he told BBC News.
The UK government has been mulling the idea of home spaceports for a decade now, and has updated the legislation that would make them possible.
There is a vibrant small satellite manufacturing sector in the UK, and enabling customers to launch their spacecraft locally should give an added boost to the industry.
Business Secretary Greg Clark will announce further details of government support at the biennial Farnborough Air Show on Monday.
He has set aside £50m. £2m of this is to be made available to continue investigations into the siting of a “horizontal launch” spaceport as well.

Source: BBC

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