Scotland Gets A Spaceport

Prestwick Airport has finally tied up loose ends and secured a deal with NASA to help it benefit from space tourism.

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Prestwick airport might be more familiar with budget airlines traveling to Tenerife than trips into space but the government owned airport has signed a deal with NASA to hopefully look at beginning flights into space before the end of the decade.

A delegation of executives from Houston Spaceport were recently in town to hear firsthand about the futuristic and ambitious development plans in store for the Ayrshire airport. The Texans were evidently impressed by what they saw as they signed an understanding with British government representatives.

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Artist Impression – Credit

“We couldn’t wish for a more experienced partner than Houston. They have a long history of facilitating government funded launches and it is exciting to be embarking on the move to commercial space launches alongside them. This partnership will hopefully expedite the establishment of a spaceport at Prestwick. For us, the immediate focus will be working with our launch partners to provide lower cost access to space for the booming UK satellite and associated services industry in the UK and across the world.” – Richard Jenner – Prestwich Spaceport Director

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“However, longer term, this partnership could develop in to a point to point for passenger travel using hyper sonic flight capability that will help to cut down journey times by a matter of hours.” – Richard Jenner – Prestwich Spaceport Director

The agreement will allow both sides to share knowledge, training, policies, procedures and other information around commercial spaceport operations. The Houston Spaceport delegation have a wealth of experience from the many operation conducted in their base of operations.

The knowledge and expertise is, of course, extremely important in how to run this kind of operation, but perhaps more valuable to Prestwick is the deal that will allow them to make use of NASA’s technology and resources. Houston Spaceport will be hoping to gain a better relationship with launch operator, Orbital Access, who previously had exclusivity with Prestwick. The agreement allows customers looking for equatorial launches to go from Houston, and polar launches from Prestwick, depending on where the customer and their equipment needs to be.

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“As we begin the next steps in this ambitious endeavor, partnerships like this with the Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport will benefit everyone, and will strengthen not only our assets and technology, but also our resolve to make commercial space travel a viable and valuable tool for the future.” – Arturo Machuca – Houston Spaceport general manager

The new spaceport could be operational within 3 years and could see the first ever rockets destined for orbit launch from the UK. The conditions at the airport are said to be pretty good for a Spaceport, and limited funding will be required to upgrade the current facilities. The government has toyed with the idea of a spaceport contest amongst possible suitors, but has, until now put off the idea.

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Cape Canaveral Launch – Credit

“This is good news for the future of spaceport development in Scotland and I am pleased to see such momentum behind it. The UK Government’s Modern Transport Bill, to be published early next year, will help create the right legal framework for these new developments to progress. A British spaceport would represent a new frontier for our country. It would create skilled jobs in a cutting edge industry, and this announcement means Prestwick is a frontrunner to boldly go at the forefront of this exciting new era of travel.” Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell

Good for Scotland. It looks like they are leading the way amongst Britain in an industry that will soon affect all of us very much. Recently it was revealed that many experts think a trip to the moon will cost less than a family trip to Florida within 10 years.

Will you be taking the 18:45 departure from Prestwick to the Lunar Colony?

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