16 September 2020 Community news

Spaceport developers form new alliance to accelerate UK growth

Five spaceport partners are working together to promote the Scottish and UK launch sector on the global stage

Artist's rendering of a rocket takes off from the Sutherland spaceport. Image: Wikimedia
Artist's rendering of a rocket takes off from the Sutherland spaceport. Image: Wikimedia

Teams developing plans for five spaceports across Scotland are joining forces in a new initiative to accelerate the growth of the UK space sector.

The Spaceports Alliance has been formed as a working group, under the auspices of the industry-led Scottish Space Leadership Council (SSLC).

Its membership comprises three vertical rocket launch sites – Shetland Space Centre, Space Hub Sutherland, and Spaceport 1, Western Isles – along with two that plan to operate plane based, horizontal launches – Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport, and Machrihanish Airbase Community Company, Argyll. Discussions are also at an advanced stage to welcome wider UK launch sites, including Spaceport Cornwall, to the Alliance in the near future.

All five partners have signed a concordat, agreeing to work collaboratively to address common issues and promote the Scottish and UK launch sector on the global stage.

Collectively, they aim to play a pivotal role in the UK’s move towards orbital launch capability, recognised as a key catalyst for driving economic growth in the market.

John Innes, chair of the Scottish Space Leadership Council said: “The new Spaceport Alliance is a major step forward in the development of a collaborative sectoral approach to develop the UK space sector.

“SSLC has been advocating a collegiate approach to address the broad range of common issues, which the sector as a whole needs to solve to enable everyone to grow and secure the significant economic opportunities space can offer to UK industry. We are delighted to sponsor and chair this initiative.

“The international race to build launch capability ahead of other global competitors is very much underway. The Spaceports Alliance will facilitate an inclusive, collaborative approach in order to navigate the sector through the challenges and opportunities posed by the prospect of UK launch in the very near future.”

Ability to launch from the UK will provide a boost to the burgeoning small satellite industry in which Scotland is already a market leader. It could also provide the catalyst for growth in a diverse range of other space business areas such as low gravity manufacturing, earth observation, orbital energy harvesting, and space tourism.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO for Project Delivery at the UK Space Agency, added: “The UK Space Agency and the new Spaceports Alliance are working in lockstep towards a common goal – make the UK the leading destination for space launch in Europe.

“We want each spaceport to provide a range of services that complements those available at other spaceport sites; meeting the myriad demands from companies for satellite launches and sub-orbital flights. The Spaceports Alliance will help us realise this ambition and build on our space sector’s proud history of collaboration.”

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