Scotland Space launch sites

24th Mar 2020
Machrihanish Airport

Despite its leadership in satellite construction, over the years, this country has not been developing its space launch industry at all. The only space program, Black Arrow, was cancelled back in the 1970s.

With the recent development of a private space sector, things have finally moved off the ground. Today, several promising projects of launch sites are almost ready for implementation. Some of these sites are to be located in Scotland. This country has plenty of elevated open spaces suitable for orbital launches.

Scotland Space launch site in Sutherland

Vertical launch site on the A’Mhoine Peninsula, in Sutherland, has every chance of becoming the first British spaceport. The Sutherland spaceport is to be developed from scratch, and the British government has already allocated the necessary starting grants for the project. American companies Lockheed Martin and RocketLab, as well as a Danish startup, Orbex Space, are supporting this idea. The latter two plan to launch their light vehicles Electron and Prime from this spaceport.

Sutherland spaceport
The proposed design for the Sutherland spaceport.

Scotland Space launch site near Glasgow

One more spaceport could emerge within Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport. This site will deal with launching satellites and conducting microgravity experiments. Later, its activities could expand to cover space passenger flights.

This site is perfectly located and meets all the existing technical criteria of the Department for Transport. Meteorological conditions have also been taken into account.

Spaceport in Machrihanish

Campbelltown Spaceport may emerge from within the airport of the same name. It is located in Machrihanish, west of Campbelltown. The spaceport will have a horizontal launch site.

NASA has been using this airport as a space shuttle emergency landing site since 1981. It’s runway is long, over 3km, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the few places suitable both for landing and takeoff. This feature attracts even more investors to this project.

Machrihanish Airport
Machrihanish Airport

Prospective spaceport in Stornoway

Stornoway Airport joins the race for becoming a leading Scotland space launch site. According to the ambitious plans of its project management, this spaceport will deal with space tourism.

Stornoway Airport

However, this site has one peculiarity – its location. Since it is situated on the island of Lewis, in the western part of Scotland, equipment delivery may become a problem. Crossing the waters is only possible on a two-hour ferry from Ullapool or on an aircraft from Glasgow.

Despite such a challenging location, this project is still a very promising one. Stornoway has one of the longest runways in Great Britain.

There are also proposed space in the Shetland Isles and in the Western Isles of Uist. However, the UK Space Agency has focussed on what it believes to be the most promising projects for Scotland Space Centers.

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