Scotland could be base for spaceport, says UK government

 
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Scotland could host the UK's first dedicated base for spaceplanes, according to new government plans.

Ministers want to establish the UK spaceport by 2018 - the first of its kind outside of the US.

Eight aerodromes have been shortlisted and Scotland has six of the potential locations.

The Scottish government said only independence would lead to a greater development of the country's space industry.

For ministers and the space industry, the major interest in a UK spaceport is as a facility to enable satellite launches, but hopefully it would also become a centre for the new tourism initiatives from specialist operators such as Virgin Galactic and XCor.

Ahead of the announcement at this week's Farnborough Airshow, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander hinted that Scotland could become a key player in the UK government's future plans for developing commercial space travel.

He said: "I am delighted that the government is pushing forward with its ambitious plans to open a spaceport in the UK by 2018. Spaceports will be key to us opening up the final frontier of commercial space travel.

"Scotland has a proud association with space exploration. We celebrated Neil Armstrong's Scottish ancestry when he became the first man on the Moon and only last week an amazing Scottish company was responsible for building the UK Space Agency's first satellite.

"The UK space industry is one of our great success stories and I am sure there will be a role for Scotland to play in the future."

Map of aerodromes Spaceplane systems may need runway lengths of 3,000m and more

Earlier this week, UKube-1, a satellite built by Glasgow-based technology firm Clyde Space, successfully launched on a test flight from Kazakhstan.

It was the first ever spacecraft to be fully assembled in Scotland.

Figures from the government show that the space sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK as a whole.

The latest data indicates it is now generating more than £11bn for the economy every year, and employs 34,000 people - an increase of almost 9% on employment figures from 2011.

Ministers hope to capitalise on this growth and capture 10% of the global space market by 2030, which could mean the creation of 100,000 additional jobs.

Skilled jobs

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Our world-leading and ambitious space sector is thriving.

"This week we will announce the next steps for this country's space race, outlining how we will take one giant leap towards establishing the first British spaceport by 2018 - making the UK the place for space."

News of the plan was welcomed by the Scottish government, who also stressed that Scotland's growing space industry would be strengthened by a "Yes" vote on 18 September.

A spokeswomen said: "The space sector offers huge economic potential for Scottish companies, indeed the first Scottish satellite, UKube-1, built by Clyde Space in Glasgow, successfully launched on 8 July.

"It was a landmark occasion and a clear example of the scientific and engineering excellence being demonstrated by Scotland's entrepreneurial innovators.

"That same day a report published by Dr Malcolm Macdonald from Strathclyde Space Institute at Strathclyde University found that independence could be worth £15 million to £20 million a year in the medium term and as much as £100 million a year in the longer term to the space sector industry."

She added: "Scotland is proving that it has the expertise to attract and support such a specialised, global industry, and as such an independent Scotland will be an attractive option for spaceport pioneers."

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    Yesterday's highlights 10:31:

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    @NetworkRailSCOT tweets: The line at Lenzie has now reopened however residual delays will be experienced until after the morning peak. Sorry for the disruption.

     
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    Cycle man 09:59:

    @BBCJohnBeattie tweets: Interviewing the man who lent the Malawi team some bikes

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  6.  
    Legacy? 09:49:

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    Over £500m pound has been spent on hosting and an entire athlete's village built in the east end - which will be used as housing after the games.

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    Contact us on newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

     
  7.  
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  11.  
    More rail disruption 08:59:

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  12.  
    Taking flight 08:57:

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  13.  
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    Thousands are expected to line the route - don't forget to send us your pictures as the cylists whizz by. You can tweet them using #ScotlandLive or email them here.

     
  14.  
    Today at the Games 08:29:

    Scottish athletes are in action in plethora of events today.

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    In the athletics, Eilidh Child goes for gold in the 400m hurdles, while para athletes Meggan Dawson-Farrell and Samantha Kinghorn will compete in the T54 1500m.

    Eilidh Child

    Full coverage of every Games event is available on the BBC, across TV, radio and online.

     
  15.  
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    And if you are at the cycling, send us your thoughts and your pictures.

    Text 80295, email newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

     
  16.  
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    Morning Call on BBC Radio Scotland starts at 08:50. Phone me on 0500 92 95 00; Text 80295; email morningcallscotland@bbc.co.uk

    Listen live from 08:50.

     
  17.  
    07:58: Train disruption

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  18.  
    07:55: Local hero

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  22.  
    07:11: Today's weather BBC Scotland Weather Latest

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    A wet start for the south west too, moving east to Lanarkshire but with bright spells later across Tayside, the central belt and Southern Uplands.

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  23.  
    07:01: Sandy Murray BBC Scotland news

    Welcome to BBC Scotland's live coverage of news, sport, weather and travel across the country on Thursday 31 July. It is day eight of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and we'll be keeping you up to date on all the Team Scotland action. We're here until 23:00.

     

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