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Britain’s first spaceport could be coming to a town near you

The UK has come one step closer to building its first spaceport as the Government revealed the eight locations now under consideration.

Their ambition is to open a spaceport on British soil by 2018, establishing the UK’s place in the rapidly expanding market.

Announced at Farnborough Air Show’s ‘Space Day‘, Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill and Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency Dr David Parker unveiled the eight possible airfields that could host the hub for space travel.

Criteria and Locations

A location in both England and Wales were selected for consideration – Newquay Cornwall Airport and Llanbedr Airport respectively.

Six locations from Scotland made up the majority of those which made the cut.

A number of factors will play a part in the decision. These include:

  • an existing runway which is, or is capable of being extended to, over 3000m in length;
  • the ability to accommodate dedicated segregated airspace to manage spaceflights safely;
  • a reasonable distance from densely populated areas in order to minimise impact on the uninvolved general public.

It was presumably the ‘reasonable distance’ that qualified so many of the Scottish airports.

Thriving industry

Business Secretary Vince Cable emphasised the importance of this development.

 [The space industry] already contributes £11.3 billion to the economy each year, supporting nearly 35,000 jobs.

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.

Further work will now be done to decide which spaceport is most suitable. It has been confirmed that locals and stakeholders will both be consulted before any decision is made.