Sutherland on the launch pad to be Britain's first spaceport

Lamba Ness in Unst where Shetland Space Centre proposes to build a commercial satellite launch base

Lamba Ness in Unst where Shetland Space Centre proposes to build a commercial satellite launch base

The Government also announced a new £2 million development fund for horizontal launch spaceports across the United Kingdom at sites such as Prestwick in Ayrshire, Cornwall's Newquay, Campbeltown in Argyll and Bute and Llanbedr, Gwynedd, Wales, subject to a successful business case.

The UK Government is driving the commercial space age and Scotland is leading the way.

The British government announced the grants today, only hours after lifting the curtain on its plan to develop a vertical-launch spaceport in Scotland's rugged Sutherland district and support the rise of horizontal-launch spaceports in other British locales.

The UK Space Agency determined that the spot on Scotland's north coast was the best place to target highly sought-after satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets.

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Sutherland was in competition with other sites, including Prestwick in Ayrshire, Unst in Shetland and Newquay airport in Cornwall.

A site in the Highlands is expected to be confirmed as the site of the UK's first spaceport.

"The global space sector is growing and we want to ensure the region is ready to reap the economic benefits that will be generated from this fantastic opportunity".

Peter Platzer, Spire's CEO said: "A spaceport in Scotland and the United Kingdom is fantastic news!" "The space sector is an important player in the U.K.'s economy, and our recent Space Industry Act has unlocked the potential for hundreds of new jobs and billions of revenue for British business across the country", said Britain's secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling.

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Britain's space industry is considered a success story: it is growing four times faster than the rest of the United Kingdom economy and the country has a 7 percent share of the global space industry. On July 6, Virgin Orbit announced a memorandum of understanding with the Italian company Sitael that could lead to LauncherOne missions from Taranto-Grottaglie Airport in southern Italy, although the agreement didn't set a timetable for such missions.

"The Cornwall partnership allows us to grasp important market share, gain instant global market credibility and, with the technology already being tested in the USA, further lower our risk", Patrick McCall, managing director for Virgin group and chairman of Virgin Orbit's board of directors, said in a news release.

"These grants will help kickstart an exciting new era for the United Kingdom space industry, and this is only the beginning of our LaunchUK campaign", said space agency chief executive Graham Turnock. The U.S. -based company has been a prominent member of the consortium supporting Sutherland's bid.

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