THE UK’S FIRST space rocket launch site will be built in Scotland. The remote A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland has been chosen as the most promising place in the UK for blasting satellites and tourists into space.
A number of coastal locations were considered for the UK’s Cape Canaveral, with Prestwick and Newquay being amongst the competition. However, business secretary Greg Clark and the UK Space Agency chose A’Mhoine, an area previoulsly best known for Mull-A-Mhouine single malt and otters, as the most viable for launching vertical take off rockets.
With new laws intended to accelerate space innovation, and mindful of the increasing number of people who would rather be blasted into space than stick around on terra firma, the UK is eager to move as quickly as possible. The project should attract a large number of space tourists and could boost the UK’s economy by nearly £4bn, the government says, launching the £50m scheme.
The Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will be granted an investment of £2.5m towards the development of the facility by the UK Space Agency. Together with partners such as the American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, which will pocket £23.5m, the HIE will hope to be launching satellites into orbit as soon as the early 2020s. Holidaymakers will have a little longer to scrape together the necessary pennies.
Lockheed currently launches its Electron rockets from a site in New Zealand. A modified version of the rocket will be built in the UK.
Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s UK country executive for space, told the BBC: “As a country we’ve not invested in launch vehicles since 1971 and Black Arrow, which put up the Prospero satellite. I’m really proud to be working with the Lockheed Martin team and our partners in delivering the first launch from British soil”.
Clark will announce further details of the project at the Farnborough Air Show today.
Noted space cadet Virgin founder Richard Branson has his eye on another possible site – Newquay in Cornwall. Currently, his Virgin Orbit company is based in Long Beach, California, but Newquay authorities hope to tempt him back to Blighty in time for a 2021 launch.
Virgin Orbit rockets are “horizontal take off”, i.e they hitch a ride on a 747 first. Cheating, really. μ
Source : Inquirer