Eight possible locations for the UK's first space port have been revealed by the government, and six of them are in Scotland.
Britain intends to build a fully functioning port by 2018, from which it will launch manned missions and commercial satellites with companies such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR.
The selection was announced earlier today at the Farnborough airshow by aviation minister Robert Goodwill, who said: “The work published today has got the ball rolling – now we want to work with others to take forward this exciting project and have Britain’s first spaceport up and running by 2018.”
Possible locations in Scotland include Glasgow, Stornorway in the far north of the country and Campbeltown in the south-west. Outside of Scotland, the options are Llanbedr in Wales and Newquay in Cornwall.
In order to come to a final decision, The Department for Transport will consult on the criteria that a recent Civil Aviation Authority report has identified. Not only will it have to fulfil meteorological, environmental and economic requirements, but it must also have an existing runway which is, or is capable of being extended to, over 3000m in length, the ability to accommodate dedicated segregated airspace, and be a reasonable distance from densely populated areas in order to minimise impact on the uninvolved general public.
As the UK aims to establish itself in the space market, the hope is that the spaceport will become Europe's leading space station.
“Space is big business for the UK. It already contributes £11.3 billion to the economy each year, supporting nearly 35,000 jobs,” said business secretary Vince Cable. “That’s why it’s important for us to prepare the UK for new launcher technology and take steps towards meeting our ambition of establishing the first British spaceport by 2018.”
He also highlighted the economic opportunities that it could open up for the UK: “Exploring the opportunities that commercial spaceflight presents, and potentially making strategic investments in this area, will support the growth of this thriving industry and underpin the economy of tomorrow, making the UK the place for space.”