Prestwick Spaceport progresses to planning stage of development

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South Ayrshire Council has begun the process of submitting a formal planning application for the Prestwick Spaceport development

This marks the first step in the planning process for Prestwick Spaceport and notifies the intent to apply for planning permission in early 2022.

The Proposal of Application Notice (POAN) follows the Council’s submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Report last year which reassured that the Prestwick Spaceport would not have any significant negative effects on the environment.

Rocket launches

Prestwick will use a method known as horizontal or air launch, in which an aircraft will carry a rocket containing small satellites a long distance to high altitude above the ocean.

Once safely above the densest layer of the atmosphere, the rocket exits the aircraft, ignites its engines, and carries its payload to orbit.

The launch operations at Prestwick Spaceport will mainly consist of processing rockets and their payloads, loading them on to a launch aircraft, and then conventional aircraft take-offs from the existing airport runways.

Councillor Peter Henderson, leader of South Ayrshire Council, commented:

“Prestwick Spaceport has achieved another milestone by filing a POAN for its development. The POAN starts the process for Prestwick Spaceport submitting its formal planning application later this year.”

“This follows on from Prestwick Spaceport securing a launch provider, Astraius, in September last year,” continued councillor Peter Henderson.

“By securing a launch partner and beginning the planning process, South Ayrshire is on its way to establishing Prestwick Spaceport and ensuring an exciting future for our local communities and making South Ayrshire part of the global space economy.”

Horizontal launches

The horizontal launch capability has not been accessible anywhere in Europe, until now.

To facilitate this, Prestwick Spaceport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Astraius, the leading UK-based commercial horizontal launch company.

Astraius will launch rockets from standard transport aircraft that does not require any modification and place small satellites, such as shoebox sized CubeSats, into different orbits.

These small satellites can be used in a variety of ways, such as monitoring climate change or tracking food supply chains to ensure that food products are sourced using sustainable methods.

Outside of the USA, Glasgow is the main hub for designing and manufacturing CubeSats.

The aim is to launch the first rocket by the end of 2023, which Ayrshire Growth deal fully supports by way of a multi-million-pound funding package that was signed last year.

£80 million of the Growth Deal is dedicated to securing Ayrshire’s future as a leading region in the UK’s aerospace and space engineering industries.

Zoe Kilpatrick, commercial director at Glasgow Prestwick Airport said:

“We are delighted to see the next stage of the Prestwick Spaceport being developed.

“We are building an industry in Ayrshire which will create jobs and investment for years to come.

“2022 will see further developments as we partner with more organisations to grow and expand our space capabilities here at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

“It is a very exciting time to be involved with the project and I look forward to seeing progress made over the coming months as we approach our first launch in 2023.”

Widening opportunities

The satellite launches and the other measures in the Ayrshire Growth Deal are predicted to generate a multitude of opportunities beyond launch.

These include:

  • establishing a high-tech space supply chain in the region to complement the existing aerospace cluster
  • creating up to 4,000 jobs for the local economy
  • giving Ayrshire the opportunity to be at the forefront of satellite launches in Europe

Further details

The public are encouraged to find out more about the proposed plans for Prestwick Spaceport and ask any questions they may have.

Public consultation events will be held in February and March.

Funding for the Aerospace and Space project constitutes £32 million from the UK Government, £30 million from the Scottish Government, and £18 million from South Ayrshire Council.

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