Scotland could be a base for space travel

 
Billy Ehrenberg
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Scotland could be the site of the first port for spaceplanes outside the US (Source: Getty)

Scotland could be the site of the first port for spaceplanes outside the US, according to new government plans.

Ministers aim to have a UK spaceport operational by 2018 and have drawn up a shortlist of potential airports.

Chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander implied that Scotland could have an important role to play.

"I am delighted that the government is pushing forward with its ambitious plans to open a spaceport in the UK by 2018. Spaceports will be key to us opening up the final frontier of commercial space travel," said Alexander.

Of the eight locations currently under consideration, six are in Scotland, while England and Wales have one each of the remaining two.

Spaceport Scotland

Although the spaceport would predominantly be used for the launch of commercial satellites, ministers also hope it will become a hub for space tourism operators such as Virgin Galactic.

The space sector is growing strongly, with the latest figures suggesting it generates £11bn a year for the economy. Around 34,000 people are employed by the industry, a figure that has risen nine per cent since 2011.

The new spaceport will be key to government aims to gain 10 per cent of the global space market before 2030. Such expansion could mean a further 100,000 UK jobs.

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