Highlands & Islands

Western Isles in race to open UK's first spaceport

Artist's impression of Spaceport 1 Image copyright Spaceport 1
Image caption An artist's impression of Spaceport 1

The Western Isles have entered the race to create the UK's first commercial spaceport.

The project led by Western Isles local authority - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - is separate to bids to build ports in Sutherland and in Shetland.

It has been proposed the Western Isles' Spaceport 1 be located at Scolpaig on the north-west coast of North Uist.

The comhairle said up to 70 jobs could be created at the site which would be used for small satellite launches.

Test launches could be carried out later this year.

The comhairle has agreed to invest about £1m to purchase the land needed.

Image copyright ESA/NASA
Image caption It has been proposed that small satellites could be sent into space from North Uist

QinetiQ, which operates the nearby Ministry of Defence Hebrides Rocket Range, is a partner in the project.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and consultancy Commercial Space Technologies are also involved.

In March, three companies were appointed to work on the design of the spaceport proposed for land on the Melness Crofters Estate in Sutherland.

Like the North Uist project, the site would be used for vertical launches of small satellites.

HIE is heading up the £17,5m Space Hub Sutherland project.

Unst, Scotland's most northerly island, has been proposed as the location for the Shetland spaceport.

Image copyright Spaceport 1
Image caption Spaceport 1 has been proposed for a site in North Uist

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