20 November 2020 Community news

Funding boost for Scottish airport’s spaceport plans

The investment will help drive economic development across the region and supports the development of a satellite launch site

A new funding package to develop and support a wide range of cutting-edge aerospace and space activities around Glasgow Prestwick Airport, including a satellite launch site and a range of other advanced technology initiatives beyond space launch, has just been announced.

A commitment to invest over £80 million in a UK Space Centre of Excellence in Ayrshire, has been made jointly by the UK and Scottish governments in partnership with South Ayrshire Council.

The investment is part of a £250 million package of investments that was announced for the area 18 months ago to will help drive economic development across the region, create new employment opportunities and encourage further inward investment.

It reinforces Ayrshire's position as a leading UK aerospace hub and is expected to create 4,000 new jobs by 2035. The region already employs over 3,500 people in global companies such as Spirit AeroSystems; BAE Systems; GE Aviation; Collins Aerospace; Woodward and National Air Traffic Services (NATS), accounting for more than half of the aerospace industry's workforce in Scotland.

Ian Annett, deputy CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: "The deal will deliver another boost to the UK's growing space sector by funding a range of new, cutting-edge aerospace activities around Glasgow Prestwick Airport, including development of the spaceport site.”

Detailed plans are already in place for a spaceport development that would provide the capability to launch small satellites from within Europe for the first time, using modified aircraft that would begin their journeys from Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

These aircraft will carry out rocket launches at high altitude and provide access to the orbits required to observe Earth's changing climate from above. The technique, known as 'horizontal' or 'air' launch, would make use of the existing infrastructure and coastal location at Prestwick, and the capability to launch satellites could make the UK a 'one stop shop' for commercial space companies.

John Innes, Chair of the Scottish Space Leadership Council (SSLC), said: “This is an exciting development that will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of new space applications, and keeps pace with the high-speed developments characteristic of the industrial space sector."

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