The United Kingdom is said to have planned its first spaceport to be built and be up-and-running by 2018, while Virgin Galactic is preparing to become the first company launching space-tourism flights from within the country.
The British government is said to have planned an official announcement this Tuesday, where it will go into detail regarding the eight possible locations for the spaceport. The Guardian states that amongst the rumored locations include the north of Scotland, Norfolk, Bristol and Outer Hebrides.
“We have worked out the regulatory regime we need to launch spaceships in Britain and assessed what kind of aviation checks will have to be imposed when we put craft into space,” UK science minister David Willetts tells the Guardian. “In the wake of that work we have now created a shortlist of locations for the first British spaceport.”
The news does not come as a surprise, since the United Kingdom’s space sector is now worth over £11 billion / $18,8 billion, having the government aiming at raising it to around £40 billion by the end of 2030. In terms of flights, it is said that both commercial satellites and manned mission will be able to launch from the spaceport, with companies such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace already lining up as potential users.
Commercial space tourism is said to have been rapidly growing, having the UK jumping in at a key moment. Virgin Galactic is stated to have planned its first flight later this year, taking off from a base in New Mexico. In addition to the company’s flight schedule, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, is reported to have already identified at least one location in the UK suitable for launching space flights in the near future.