Eight possible locations for spaceport will be announced by ministers at Farnborough air show on Tuesday
Britain is to build a commercial spaceport that will be used to launch manned missions and commercial satellites. A list of eight locations for the spaceport – which could be used by Virgin Galactic and the US company XCOR to launch space tourism flights – has been drawn up by the government and will be announced on Tuesday at the Farnborough air show.
It is planned to have Britain’s spaceport in operation by 2018 even though a decision has yet to be made on its location. Several sites around the country have been linked to spaceport plans and are now being studied by officials.
"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," said the science minister, David Willetts. "In the wake of that work we have now created a shortlist of locations for the first British spaceport."
Details of the list are being kept secret until Tuesday but experts believe locations could include the north of Scotland, Bristol, Norfolk and the Outer Hebrides. The first of these possible sites – Lossiemouth on the Moray coast of Scotland – is already home to a major helicopter rescue centre and has been pinpointed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic as a desirable site for launching its spaceplanes, a proposal that has been backed enthusiastically by the Scottish National party.