Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced the start of a Great British Space Age which will see rockets and satellites take off from a new spaceport at Sutherland, on the north coast of Scotland.
The Government is also creating a new £2 million fund to boost further horizontal launch spaceport sites across Britain - such as Newquay, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia - subject to business case.
The Sutherland spaceport, which could see lift-off from the early 2020s and create hundreds of new jobs, is one of a number of Government-backed space projects that will be announced at the Farnborough International Airshow.
The commercial space sector is estimated to be worth a potential £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next decade and will support Britain’s modern Industrial Strategy by creating high-skilled jobs and boosting local economies.
UK Space Agency selected the Sutherland site because Scotland is the best place in the UK to reach highly sought-after satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets.
Initial funding of £2.5 million will go to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the launch site in Sutherland, which will use innovative rocket technology to ensure Britain is a leading force in the global spaceflight market.
Horizontal launch sites have potential to play a key role in the UK’s future spaceflight market, attracting companies from all over the world to invest in Britain for the launch of their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “As a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs, 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 the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites.
“This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.”
The £50 million UK Spaceflight Programme plans to award additional grants to innovative satellite launch companies at next week’s Farnborough International Airshow.
The UK already has a thriving space sector with significant capability in manufacturing satellites.
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 as a whole.
“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.”
Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, added: “This 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.”
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