Scotland’s Space Sector to be Worth £4 Billion by 2030

EDINBURGH (Scotland Government PR) — Scotland’s space sector could be worth £4 billion by 2030, Innovation Minister Ivan McKee said today.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate on Scotland’s space sector potential, Mr McKee outlined the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to introduce at least one spaceport by the early 2020s.

More small satellites are built in Glasgow than any other place in Europe, and nearly a fifth of all UK space jobs are based in Scotland. Findings from the Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2018 report show a 27% increase in the number of space organisations in Scotland.


UK Selects First Launch Site in Sutherland

  • Industrial Strategy funding awarded to proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland
  • Horizontal launch sites such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia to be boosted by new £2 million development fund
  • Commercial vertical and horizontal launch demand is worth a potential £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next decade and will support further growth of Britain’s space sector
  • Additional grants to be announced at next week’s Farnborough International Airshow will see leading commercial spaceflight operators launching from Sutherland

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has selected the first vertical launch site in Sutherland on the north coast of Scotland and is making available a new £2 million fund to boost horizontal spaceport development across Britain, Business Secretary Greg Clark will announce today (Monday 16 July).


Skyrora Looks to Launch Small Satellites From Scotland

Credit: Skyrora

Another week, another small satellite launch company.

Skyrora, a privately-funded launch vehicle developer with a research and development hub in Ukraine, unveiled its plans for entering the small satellite launch market during the Reinventing Space conference taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, this week.

Edinburgh-based Skyrora, which is currently developing an orbital launch vehicle and has recently started a series of engine test firings, has plans to launch from the UK and follow in the footsteps of Black Arrow through the use of a high-test peroxide (HTP) and Kerosine propellants.

Daniel Smith, business development manager, said: “The use of advanced manufacturing techniques, including 3D printing, access to expertise in Ukraine and our choice of propellant/oxidiser will give us an edge in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market.”

“Scotland is an ideal place from which to operate. Its launch suitability, strong manufacturing history and the fact that Glasgow, in particular, is a leading city within the European space sector are all positive factors.”

Prior to attending the Rispace conference, Skyrora executives visited the Shetland Islands off the north east coast of Scotland as part of their search for a launch site.

According to the company’s website, Skyrora is working on two boosters: the suborbital Skyrora 1 and the three-stage orbital Skyrora XL. The website does not include any information on payload capacity.


A Closer Look at the UK’s Commercial Space Review

Following the release of the document, “UK Government Review of Commercial Spaceplane Certification and Operations: Summary and Conclusions,” almost all media attention focused on one element of the report: the 8 candidate sites for the nation’s first spaceport.

This laser focus is easy to understand. The fierce, tooth-and-nail competition to land some big government project will be fun to watch. And spaceports are super cool. Well, they are when space planes are actually flying to space. When like a decade goes by with people promising imminent spaceflights without a single one taking place, spaceports become a lot less cool.  (I’m looking at you…everybody in Mojave!)

But, I digress. I went through the 80-page document and the 321-page technical report its based on so you don’t have to. Why would I do this? Because you guys are the best! You’re very welcome.

Key excerpts follow with commentary as appropriate. Read away!


Moray MP: What You Talkin’ About, Willie?


MP ‘mystified’ by comments about UK space flights
The Press and Journal

Moray MP Angus Robertson last night said he was “mystified” by Virgin Galactic’s claims that British laws must be changed before Moray can be considered as Europe’s international space station base.

The company plans to offer space tourism flights to the paying public within five years and Lossiemouth’s RAF base is their first UK choice as a spaceport.

Virgin Galactic’s president Will Whitehorn this weekend warned Britain “has no legislation to allow us to fly here – there is no regulatory authority”.

He confirmed locations in Sweden were also being considered as bases for Virgin’s European operations.

Read the full story.

Group Hopes to Turn Machrihanish into Tourist Mecca With Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson poses with Virgin Galactic ticketholders and staff members in front of WhiteKnightTwo.
Richard Branson poses with Virgin Galactic ticketholders and staff members in front of WhiteKnightTwo.

Sunday Herald and BBC pick up on For Argyll’s campaign to attract Virgin Galactic to Machrihanish
For Argyll

If Virgin Galactic did opt for Machrihanish as their UK Spaceport, imagine what that would mean for Argyll. Every run up to a launch; every batch of space tourists arriving for a panoramic view like no other and a brief shot of weightlessness; every launch, every return….


Will Virgin Galactic Fly Out of Scotland’s Version of Area 51?

Artist's conception of WhiteKnight2/SpaceShipTwo in flight (credit: Virgin Galactic)
Artist's conception of WhiteKnight2/SpaceShipTwo in flight (credit: Virgin Galactic)

Some interesting news about Virgin Galactic’s efforts to launch space tourism in Scotland, courtesy of the Sunday Herald:

Based tales of UFOs, secretive government test sites, mysterious hangars and underground cities, it is a sales pitch that is literally out of this world. A group of industrious locals in Argyll have clubbed together to try and convince Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s new venture in space tourism, to turn the disused RAF base in Machrihanish on the Mull of Kintyre into its UK spaceport.


Big Row Over Scottish Town’s Decision Not to Send Reps to Space Tourism Conference

Fury over ‘lost opportunity’ of space tourism conference
The Press and Journal

A furious councillor yesterday accused Moray Council’s administration of a lack of vision after it decided not to send representatives to an upcoming space tourism conference. Members of the planning and regulatory services committee had been due to decide who would attend next week’s event, which will include a talk on Virgin Galactic’s possible collaboration with RAF Lossiemouth.


Scotland: An Emerging Space Power?

Reaching for the stars will soon be a reality in Lossie
The Northern Scot

The company, which is developing its White Knight shuttle craft in America, has expressed an interest in establishing a mission control here in Moray from which it would take space tourists to an altitude of 110km in a MAC 3 climb, to experience 15 minutes of zero gravity as they look down on earth.


Scottish Space Tourism Base Could Net UK Billions

MP’s delight at talks on potential for Moray space flights: No Serious Barriers to Scots Facility
The Press and Journal

Preliminary talks in London last night established no serious barriers to establishing a space-launch facility in the north-east, an MP claimed.

Moray SNP MP Angus Robertson was speaking after a meeting with Science Minister Lord Drayson and Ian Gibson, director of space technology and industrial policy at the British National Space Centre.


Parabolas: Virgin Galactic Chooses Scotland, India to Build Launch Pad for Human Missions

Jumping Off Point for the ‘Final Frontier’
Inverness Courier

“A few weeks ago, a spokesman for Sir Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic confirmed that it has chosen Scotland as the venue for a spaceport. In the shortlist of sites, the front runner is Lossiemouth. Kinloss and Machrihanish are also under consideration.

“If these plans come to reality there is a 60 per cent chance that the shores of the Moray Firth will become this country’s portal into space by as early as 2013, only five years away.”

India plans new manned rocket launch pad
Flight International

“The Indian Space Research Organisation plans to build a third launch pad at its Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota island on India’s eastern coast for its proposed 2015 manned flight.”