Prestwick Spaceport hopes to forge a reputation as Europe’s “leading space hub” as the site progresses with launch partner discussions.
Having previously secured a multi-million-pound funding boost through the Ayrshire Growth Deal, the spaceport is undergoing a “highly ambitious” space programme and is continuing to ramp up marketing and operational efforts.
Prestwick hopes to create an “unrivalled space supply-chain network,” boosted by a location that can be reached easily by road, rail, sea and air – and accessible to a vast talent pool.
The coming weeks are expected to bring confirmation of its first partnership with a launch provider, which will see the spaceport become its international base, with the first commercial rocket launches taking place from autumn 2023.
Mick O’Connor, Programme Director of Prestwick Spaceport, said: “To date, we have largely flown under the radar, making sure we put the spaceport in the best possible position to deliver its immense potential.
“Now feels like the right time to truly set out our stall. Prestwick Spaceport’s novel launch solution should excite people, whether they are local or within the space sector.
“So much is in our favour. We feel the spaceport can define the economy locally as well as put the UK at the forefront of commercial space launch globally.”
O’Connor added: “Not only are we planning for spaceflight capability for 2023, but we are also building the commercial infrastructure to support it, as well as manufacturing and significant supply chain capability, all of which will build on Prestwick’s long-established heritage within aerospace and aviation.”
Due to come into operation in 2023, the spaceport is home to a host of major industry players such as BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Spirit AeroSystems, Woodward and Collins Aerospace.
It is anticipated the spaceport will create more than 4,000 new jobs while positioning Scotland as a major hub in the global space industry.
Prestwick Spaceport is just one of only a handful of global sites which employs horizontal launch technology. This method uses a carrier aircraft to take off from a runway while carrying a launch vehicle.
O’Connor insisted the decision to utilise this launch method places Prestwick in a unique position.
He said: “As a result of our preferred launch solution we are not constrained by carrier aircraft availability due to fleet size, which gives us a level of in-built redundancy.
“It also means that we have the technical capability to conduct multiple launches in a single day if the market required it, which is unique not just in Scotland or the UK, but anywhere in the world.”
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Alongside the spaceport, the funding from the Ayrshire Growth Deal is enabling the development of a multi-occupancy Aerospace and Space Innovation Centre (ASIC).
The centre will allow the delivery and manufacture of new flight products focused on the supply chain for the aerospace sector; vertical and horizontal launch platforms; satellite and other payloads; and both academic and industrial research and development.
A STEM Hub will also be incorporated to meet the business development, skills development and training needs of the aerospace and space sector in partnership with local and national higher education establishments, including the University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, University of the West of Scotland and Ayrshire College.