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  UK Spaceport: Britain plans spaceport for 2018

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Author Topic:   UK Spaceport: Britain plans spaceport for 2018
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 29987
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-15-2014 08:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
UK Space Agency release
Government paves way for UK spaceport

Government consults on essential criteria for location to launch commercial space flights from 2018.

The UK's bid to become Europe's leading space nation took a giant leap forward today (15 July 2014) as government revealed the 8 locations now under consideration to base Britain's first spaceport.

Speaking at Farnborough Air Show's 'Space Day', Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill and Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency Dr. David Parker unveiled the findings of a recent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report highlighting 8 possible airfields that could host a spaceport and the economic opportunities it could open up for the UK.

Government's ambition is for a UK spaceport to open in 2018 — providing a focus for regional and international investment for growth and establishing the UK as a leader in the rapidly-expanding space market.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Space is big business for the UK. It 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.

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.

Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill said:
In order to lead the way on commercial spaceflight, we will need to establish a spaceport that enables us to operate regular flights.

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.

The 8 coastal locations that could be used for a spaceport include:
  • Campbeltown Airport (Scotland)
  • Glasgow Prestwick Airport (Scotland)
  • Llanbedr Airport (Wales)
  • Newquay Cornwall Airport (England)
  • Kinloss Barracks (Scotland)
  • RAF Leuchars (Scotland)
  • RAF Lossiemouth (Scotland)
  • Stornorway Airport (Scotland)
The Department for Transport will consult on the criteria the CAA has identified that will make a location suitable for a spaceport. In addition to meteorological, environmental and economic factors, these include:
  • an existing runway which is, or is capable of being extended to, over 3000 metres 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
Following the consultation further work will be done to develop locations which remain on the shortlist.

This would include seeking the views of local people and other stakeholders before any decisions are taken to proceed with any planned spaceport.


Posts: 659
From: West Midlands, UK
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 07-15-2014 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Watched the news reports about this and the've all failed to mention the weather factor. Every time I watch the weather forecast, there's a thick cloud cover with rain over Sotland. Not ideal conditions for preparing and launching spaceflights.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 29987
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-15-2014 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The news reports may not mention it, but weather (meteorological conditions) is one of the criteria identified by the Department of Transport for a suitable spaceport location:
Strong crosswinds could restrict spaceplane operations and, from information received to date, they are expected to operate clear of cloud under visual meteorological flight rules.

There may also be commercial considerations, such as participants wishing to see the earth from space and if cloud cover restricted that, the experience may not live up to expectation. Regional variation in weather conditions may therefore have a significant bearing on the economic case for a particular location.

butch wilks

Posts: 248
From: Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 07-16-2014 04:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for butch wilks   Click Here to Email butch wilks     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll bet it's RAF Leuchars or Campbetown airport that gets it. Why:

RAF Leuchars was rumoured to be an overseas operations base for the CIA Aurora spy plane. This base has a number of buildings in a high security area for the ground operations for the spy plane. Now Aurora is retired (we think), the building and infrastructure can now be used for the civil space plane market and the UK government can keep its eye on it.

So I think RAF Leuchars is the number one contender.

On to Campbetown airport, it has three thing going for it: fuel, the Atlantic Ocean and the size of the runway (over 3,000 meters).

Fuel; you would not have to use that much to get to the launch point over the Atlantic Ocean, as its on the west coast of the UK. The Atlantic Ocean; even if you launch from a runway or are dropped from a launch plane, you would not fire the rockets to get you to orbit until you got to a firing range over the Atlantic (for a firing range size matters, the North Sea is out as it has to many oil rigs and shipping on it for it size for safety). The size of runway; it's over 3,000 meters long and that good for emergencies and long take off runs (RAF Leuchars is 2500 to 3000 meters long).

But in the end whoever gets it, I bet we see the UK government tax it up to the eyeballs, so no one will be able to go in to space but the very, very wealthy from the UK. So I say we'll just have to go to the USA to go in to space as we do soon. (The UK is one of the most expensive countries in the world to fly out of because of taxes.)

All times are CT (US)

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