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Prestwick Spaceport Progresses Plans for Horizontal Launch from Scotland 

By | January 7, 2022

South Ayrshire Council has started the process of submitting a formal planning application for the Prestwick Spaceport development. Photo: AMD Studios Ltd.

In another development that moves the United Kingdom closer to having native launch capabilities, a local government in Scotland is planning for a spaceport in Prestwick, Scotland. 

Local government South Ayrshire Council announced Jan. 6 that it has started the process of submitting a formal planning application for the Prestwick Spaceport development. The proposal of application notice is the first step in the planning process for Prestwick Spaceport and signals the intent to apply for planning permission in early 2022. 

Prestwick is on the west coast of Ayrshire in Scotland, southwest of Glasgow. Launch company Astraius is developing a horizontal launcher, and has committed as the launch provider for the Prestwick Spaceport. Launches from Prestwick will use the horizontal or air launch method, in which a rocket is released from an aircraft mid-flight. Prestwick aims to conduct its first rocket launch by the end of 2023, a goal supported by funding from the Ayrshire Growth Deal government funding package. 

“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,” said councillor Peter Henderson. 

The United Kingdom is home to a number of commercial companies working to bring native launch capabilities to the country. Skyrora is preparing to launch from Unst, Scotland, the northernmost Shetland Island, and Orbex is preparing to launch from the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in Scotland. Virgin Orbit, while not a U.K.-based company plans to launch from Spaceport Cornwall as early as summer 2022.