Machrihanish in ‘pole position’ to become UK’s first spaceport

« Return to News

20th May 2016

--- Discover Space UK ready for take-off after licensing decision ---

A decision by the UK Government to introduce licensing to establish the country’s first spaceport has put Machrihanish’s bid in pole position.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has today written to the bidders to inform them of their decision to end the process and move towards a licensing model, which will set out a series of technical requirements for a site to become a spaceport.

With the Campbeltown bid the only one of the shortlisted candidates to have met and exceeded minimum requirements for runway length, its chairman, Tom Millar, says the decision makes the Kintyre site an even more attractive prospect for potential investors.

He said: “There have been indications for some time that the Government was moving towards this model but it is reassuring to have confirmation of the process so we can advance our plans.

“We strongly expect safety and logistics to feature at the very top of priorities from any licensing agreement, which puts the runway-ready Discover Space UK in a very strong position to become the country’s first spaceport.

“We are confident that our site offers the best possible option, especially under a licensing arrangement. We are the only one of the bidders to have a suitable runway, we’ve got the best launch direction and 1,000 acres of opportunity on site.

“With the support of the community and the local authority behind us, strong interest from potential investors and commercial partners, we are looking forward to being ready for take-off.”

Based at the community-owned airbase near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula, the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC) proposal is the only shortlisted bidder to have been twice approved for spaceflight and is the only one of the list that can meet the UK Government’s minimum runway length for the proposed facility.

The base’s space credentials go back as far as 1981, when NASA approved the site as an emergency landing spot for the Space Shuttle. The 3,049m long runway, which launches straight over the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the few able to welcome a landing shuttle and get it back in the air via a Boeing 747 Shuttle Aircraft Carrier.

Then, in 2009, Virgin Galactic had said Machrihanish was one of its preferred sites for a UK spaceport.

ENDS 20 May 2016

Share This