Argyll on starting block of space race
THE POSSIBILITY of Argyll having the UK’s first spaceport moved a step closer when the government invited potential candidates to submit proposals.
The Department of Transport (DoT) is currently working on the specification of what it wants a spaceport to be, with the aim to launch tourists into space by 2018.
Machrihanish Airbase in Kintyre, Stornoway airport on the Isle of Lewis, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Newquay Airport and RAF Llanbedr in Wales are the main contenders.
Council leader Dick Walsh said in August that Argyll and Bute would be ‘transformed’ if the bid by Machrihanish was successful. The council is in a partnership with Machrihanish Airbase Community Company ( MACC) for the bidding. The consortium is led by MACC subsidiary company, Discover Space UK.
The spaceport is intended to be used to launch both human- carrying flights and commercial satellite missions.
A spokesman for the DoT said: ‘The government is developing a detailed technical specification to increase understanding of what a spaceport is and the detailed technical requirements for spaceplane operations. There is a lot of work to be done – this is very cutting edge. The various locations will be asked to submit proposals in due course.’
A spokesman for Western Isles Council said it had agreed to work with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to try and win the contract for Stornoway.
By 2030, experts say the wider UK space industry will be worth an estimated £40 billion and provide 100,000 jobs.
It is hoped spaceports will become hubs for commercial flights into space, as well as super-fast, round-the-world flights, including the UK to Australia in just two hours.