Glasgow Spaceport one step closer to launch

Glasgow Spaceport one step closer to launch

The countdown is on for the launch of the UK’s first spaceport after Glasgow Prestwick Airport welcomed a delegation from Houston Spaceport and Rice Space Institute, on Tuesday.

The meeting saw Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport Spaceport director, Richard Jenner, and Houston Spaceport general manager, Arturo Machuca, sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of their respective organisation.

The MOU will allow both parties to share relevant policies, processes and other information relating to commercial spaceport licensing and operations.

It also marks the start of a process to develop global ‘best practice’ for commercial space launch activities, safety and environmental standards.

Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport will benefit from Houston’s existing agreements with NASA, enabling them to use NASA technology, research and resources in a commercial environment.

Houston will also be able to benefit from Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport’s existing relationship with space launch developers and operators Orbital Access.

This partnership will also lead to customer referrals between the two spaceports.

Richard Jenner, Glasgow Prestwick Airport Spaceport Director, said: "This partnership will hopefully expedite the establishment of a spaceport at Prestwick, as soon as we have the guidance from the CAA, Dft and UK Space Agency on what a regulatory framework will involve for UK spaceports.

"We would anticipate that we will have this clarity at some point in 2017."

Economic benefits of a Spaceport at Glasgow Prestwick include an additional £320m towards the economy, as well as providing access to NASA research and resources for the wider science and technology industries in Scotland.

"For us, the immediate focus will be working with our launch partners to provide lower cost access to space for the booming UK satellite and associated services industry in the UK and across the world," added Jenner.

"However, longer term, this partnership could develop in to a point to point for passenger travel using hyper sonic flight capability that will help to cut down journey times by a matter of hours."

Arturo Machuca commented: "As we begin the next steps in this ambitious endeavour, partnerships like this with the Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport will benefit everyone, and will strengthen not only our assets and technology, but also our resolve to make commercial space travel a viable and valuable tool for the future."

Secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell responded to the news, adding: "This is good news for the future of spaceport development in Scotland and I am pleased to see such momentum behind it.

"The UK Government’s Modern Transport Bill, to be published early next year, will help create the right legal framework for these new developments to progress.

"A British spaceport would represent a new frontier for our country. It would create skilled jobs in a cutting edge industry, and today’s announcement means Prestwick is a frontrunner to boldly go at the forefront of this exciting new era of travel."