Ar­gyll on start­ing block of space race

The Oban Times - - News -

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.

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