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UK announces plan for 8 spaceports

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15 July 2014

The UK has entered the space race, which could see flights time to Australia cut down to only two hours.

The UK government is lined up eight potential sites for the base from which rockets would carry satellites, astronauts and tourists by 2018.

The announcement regarding the sites which include six in Scotland, one in Cornwall and one in Wales would be made over the course of the week-long Farnborough International Airshow, which commenced on Monday.

According to business secretary Vince Cable the proposals would help to support the future of commercial space flight. He added, the investment in space tourism would help boost the economy and make UK ''the place for space'', The Telegraph newspaper reported.

The spaceport, which would be the only one of its kind outside the US, could be a launch pad for space tourists flying with commercial companies such as Virgin Galactic. It could also become home for supersonic spaceplanes such as Skylon, a British-backed project.

The UK Space Agency expects the spaceports, which would be open to operators like Virgin Galactic and XCor, to be ready by 2018.

According to business secretary Vince Cable, space was big business for the UK, that was why it was important for the government to prepare the UK for new launcher technology and take steps towards meeting the government's ambition of establishing the first UK spaceport.

He added, exploring the opportunities that commercial spaceflight presented, and potentially making strategic investments in this area, would support the growth of this thriving industry and underpin the economy of tomorrow, making the UK the place for space.

Meanwhile, according to the Civil Aviation Authority, the chosen site would have to have a runway over 3000 metres long - or one which could be extended - and be a "reasonable distance" from densely populated areas, stv.tv website reported.

The government had worked out plans for securing 10 per cent of the world's space market by 2030. The UK space sector had seen a growth of over 7 per cent since 2012 and was worth around 11 billion.

The growth projected by 2030 is 40 billion if government targets were met.

Aviation minister Robert Goodwill said in order to lead the way on commercial spaceflight, a spaceport that enabled operation regular flights would need to be built.

He said the work published today had got the ball rolling and now the government wanted to work with others to take forward the exciting project and have the UK's first spaceport up and running by 2018.





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