Sutherland: UK selects Scottish site for first spaceport
UK Space Agency has selected site at Sutherland on A’Mhoine peninsula on north coast of Scotland for its first spaceport to launch rockets vertically and put satellites in orbit. For development of this spaceport, UK Government is going to provide $3.3 million funding and will be built with help of consortium of companies.
A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland was chosen as most suitable place from which to launch rockets vertically. The first rocket launches from this spaceport are planned for early 2020s. The site was selected in part due to its beneficial geography. Rockets can take direct path from tip of Scottish peninsula to above Arctic Circle. This is suitable for launching small satellites particularly, which are often placed in polar orbits, circling Earth and passing over Arctic and Antarctic. It is located on coast in sparsely populated area, thus in case of failures rocket will harmlessly fall into the ocean or empty land.
The spaceport will help UK to grab slice of growing market for small satellite launches. UK already has many component and satellite makers and adding ability to launch satellites locally would increase its international appeal. The spaceport will help to attract $5 billion spaceflight market into UK’s economy over the next decade.
In recent years, new breed of small satellites (nano satellites) have created boom in space launch industry. These satellites are often size of shoebox or smaller and far more technologically capable than older, larger models. They are cheaper to launch and can be put to range of uses from communications to weather monitoring to scientific experiments. It’s estimated that global market for such launches (including supporting infrastructure) is currently worth $339 billion, and will grow eightfold by 2045 to $2.7 trillion.