Published: Wed, July 18, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Lockheed Martin wins $31M from UK Space Agency for spaceport in Scotland

Lockheed Martin wins $31M from UK Space Agency for spaceport in Scotland

Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin's United Kingdom country executive for space, told the BBC: "As a country we've not invested in launch vehicles since 1971 and Black Arrow, which put up the Prospero satellite".

"The worldwide space sector is set to grow very significantly in the coming years, and we want to ensure that our businesses are ready to reap the economic benefits that will be generated", she said. His company builds its constellation of cubesats that provide weather and tracking services in Glasgow.

A report last December said Scotland's space industry is now worth more to the economy than the defence sector. The spaceport should be operational in the next three to five years.

But the UK Government also announced a new £2 million development fund for horizontal launch spaceports across the UK at sites such as Llanbedr in Gwynedd as well as Prestwick in Ayrshire, Cornwall's Newquay and Campbeltown in Argyll and Bute - subject to a successful business case. But, there is more to the story The British government has actually been looking at existing airports that could support flights of suborbital vehicles or air-launch systems.

Sutherland is the first vertical launch location to be awarded grant money, ahead of other sites at Unst, Shetland, and North Uist in the Western Isles.


Called Prime, the orbital launch vehicle would deliver small satellites into Earth's orbit, using a single renewable fuel, bio-propane, that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to hydrocarbon fuels. But the British spaceport will be focused on satellites with polar orbits. That agreement will be signed at Farnborough on Monday. More funding for the local industry will be announced soon, HIE said in a statement.

To date, US regulators have licensed 10 commercial spaceports, including Spaceport America in southern New Mexico, where Virgin Galactic plans to launch its customers-horizontally, from an aircraft-for pleasure rides into space.

It wasn't clear from the announcement how committed Virgin Orbit is to launching from the United Kingdom.

The news follows only a day after Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS Group, a trade organisation representing the aerospace, defence and space industries, warned that Britain faces an "erosion" of investment in its space, security and defence sectors unless a good Brexit deal is struck with the European Union, on the BBC. The U.S. -based company has been a prominent member of the consortium supporting Sutherland's bid.

"The Cornwall partnership allows us to grasp important market share, gain instant global launch market credibility and, with the technology already being tested in the USA, further lower our risk", said Patrick McCall, chairman of the board of Virgin Orbit, said in the Cornwall statement.

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